Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Quality 2 required for great Leadership

Whenever you see a successful business,
somebody has made a courageous decision.
(Peter Drucker)

Today, we shall look at Quality 2 required for Leadership, which has been extracted from an article produced by Business Link which set out the qualities you need to be a great Leader.

Quality 2 - A great Leader makes quick but considered Decisions that balance facts, instinct and the opinions of others.

Decision-making should be quick, flexible and informal, says Martin Sorrell, CE at advertising firm WPP. "This is not to say the process shouldn't be rigorous: run the analyses, suck up all the data, and include some formal process as well". "The only way to avoid making mistakes is to avoid making decisions", adds Sorrell; "Instead, learn from mistakes and listen to feedback."

Randy Komisar, partner at Investment firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers suggests creating a balance sheet, "where everybody around the table is asked to list points on both sides". Rather than giving judgements, contributors first outline the good and bad points relating to a decision. Once done, participants share their opinions and discuss the decision based on objective insights and personal judgements. "By assembling everyone's insights rather than their conclusions, the discussion can focus on the biases and assumptions that lead to the opinions." Komisar adds: "Listen to the little voice ... it's great to see a leader who will echo the little voice in the back of the room that has a different point of view - and thereby change the complexion of the discussion".

Instinct is also important, "but only when four tests are met" says McKinsey of McKinsey & Company. The familiarity test asks whether we have the experience in similar situations, because: "If we have plenty of appropriate memories to scan, our judgement is likely to be sound". The feedback test, questions the availability of reliable feedback in past situations, and whether the right lessons were learnt. The measured-emotions test asks if a decision evokes highly charged emotions which can unbalance judgement. And the independence test asks if we are "likely to be influenced by any inappropriate personal interest or attachments?". "If a situation fails even one of these four tests, we need to strengthen the decision process", argues McKinsey.

If you would like to work with me to help you find the 'Great Leader' within you, then please contact me at Nicholl Consultancy.

Until next time - be successful!


Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Leadership - The 7 Qualities you Need

Effective Leadership is not about making speeches or being liked;
Leadership is defined by results not attributes
(Peter Draper)

The following information has been extracted from an article produced by Business Link which I felt was well worth sharing.

A Great Leader .....

1. Has strong Awareness of what's going on, and uses good Judgement to determine what's important;

2. makes quick but considered Decisions that balance facts, instinct and the opinions of others;

3. defines a clear Vision for the business, and focuses the attention of everyone on it;

4. ensures the vision connects with business Strategy and Operations;

5. pursues, encourages and supports Innovation and positive change;

6. shows People why they are important to realising the company vision, enables people to achieve goals in providing support, training and freedom, and establishes trust;

7. pays attention to Improving oneself as a leader.

This article will give more depth to Quality 1, and during the coming months, we shall look into the other qualities.

Quality 1 - A great leader has strong Awareness of what's going on, and uses good Judgement to determine what's important.

Leaders make better decisions and define clearer visions if they have knowledge or perception of the pertinent situations or facts in a business context.

Situational awareness involves accessing knowledge on what's happening inside and outside of the organisation; from what's happening on the ground, to the opportunities and challenges that exist for management; and moreover, to the external opportunities and threats that are present in the marketplace such as economic conditions.

Leaders may not have time to study all these things and so must capitalise on strong and open lines of communication to inform them.

The task of improving awareness should be seen as an opportunity, not a chore. Being self-aware and accepting that you do not know everything is a vital admission for leaders to accept.

Good judgement is often said to be instinctive. Sometimes this is true but great leaders are likely to admit that over and above instinct, good judgement is a product of strong awareness, information and knowledge.

Importantly, this means that anyone - not just so-called natural leaders - can learn to improve their judgement and become a better leader. When it comes to decision-making or defining your vision, let your awareness inform your judgement.

Strong judgement is also independent rather than based on bias or emotion, so communication is again important; by consulting others you can build objective perspectives and form well-rounded conclusions.

You need to be confident in your own personal judgement, but also be aware of and value the perspectives and knowledge of others.

If you want to improve your Leadership Qualities, and would like to work with me alongside you, then please contact me at Nicholl Consultancy.

Until next time - enjoy great success!


Friday, 21 October 2011

Marketing Meeting Checklist

"The sole purpose of marketing is to sell more to more people,
more often and at higher prices.
There is no other reason to do it."

Do you get nervous as the time draws close to having a marketing meeting with a potential client?

Do you worry that you will forget the most relevant points that could make the difference between success and failure?

Do you wish you had a template to hand, for how to conduct the marketing meeting?

Well, if the answer to any of these questions is 'yes' then read on...

Firstly, start with the end in mind - what exactly do you want to achieve from this meeting?

Once you have pre-planned your desired outcome ensure that everything you do or say within the meeting is leading you towards that outcome.

The best way to start your marketing pitch after the usual pleasantries, is to ask a few questions:
  • What is their issue?
  • What are their requirements?
  • What are the implications for them if things don't change?
Then make a note of their answers, so you can refer back to it during the meeting. Particularly at the end when they are deciding whether to buy what you are offering or offer you the contact - eg; you mentioned earlier that the implications for you would be .......... if you don't make changes, what will those cost you on a daily basis?

One of the basic errors made, when people go into a marketing meeting is to assume they are the answer to your prayers and launch into what they are going to do for you, rather than asking what your issue is first - don't make that mistake.

I have always found the SCOTSMAN model very helpful - maybe because I am also married to one!

S = Solution
  • Do we have a good solution to their problems? Obviously you do otherwise you wouldn't be having the meeting.
C = Competition
  • What competition are we up against?
  • Do they have a preferred supplier?
  • What do they like about them x 3?
  • What we do over and above that is ....
O = Originality
  • Do we have anything unique that they need or that we can persuade them that they need?
T = Timescales
  • For the decision
  • For the implementation
S = Size
  • Is the size of the sale big enough/too big?
  • Does it demand too much effort for its size?
  • Do we have the resources?
M = Money
  • Is there a budget?
  • Is it realistic?
A = Authority
  • Are you talking to the decision makers?
  • Do the decision-makers know there is a decision to be made?
N = Need
  • Is there a real need for this project?
  • Are they serious?
  • Are they actually going to make a decision?
Then after you proved to them why you should be the one they offer the business to, don't forget to actually ask for the business. Say something like "I have really enjoyed our time together today and would really like to work with you in the future - when will you be making your decision?"

If however, you don't manage to persuade them to do business with you this time, then do ask for feedback as to why you weren't successful, because you will be able to incorporate the comments into your next pitch and each time you will be improving which is a good outcome in itself.

If you would like some coaching to help you prepare for your next marketing pitch or anything else to help you grow your business then do please get in touch with me at Nicholl Consultancy
I look forward to hearing from you!

Unti next time, I wish you success


Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Your Personal Brand: It's all about Image

You can't judge a book by its cover

I read this article by Dr Joanna Martin of Shift Speaker Training and felt it was well worth sharing with you - I hope you agree.

When it comes to speaking, we like to think that what we say and how we say it is more important than what we look like and how people see us. . .

But the truth is that people do judge us by our appearance and by our offstage behaviour.

When you are portraying an image that fits in with your brand, you will have the audience in a place where they’re going to be very receptive to what it is that you’re talking about.

Your Brand: What Everything You Do Says About You

The most important thing in terms of making the right first impression is brand. How do you decide what your personal brand is going to be? Well, it takes a bit of research and it takes a bit of digging.

But here are some simple things that you can do first:

Personal Research

Research the brands that you are attracted to is the first step in recognizing your brand. What brands do you like, what brands do you resonate with? What brands will accurately represent the image that you want to have?

When you start to get clearer in that, you can get some clarity around how you’re going to position yourself.

Magazine Research

Grab all different kinds of magazines: lifestyle, beauty, business. Go through and tear out images that speak to your values and your brand. Create a “Brand Board” around what look and feel you want to project into the marketplace based on images. Then create a list of value words around those images.

Words that Define Your Brand

So for us, that is Shift Lifestyle, and the words that define our brand are fun, anything is possible, looking for the bigger pie, contribution, lifestyle, freedom, and a myriad of other words. And around these words that’s the brand we created.

Your Dress and Image

What you wear is going to be influenced by your brand. You rarely see Richard Branson wearing anything other than a sweater, a pullover, a jumper and looking unshaven with unkempt hair. He’s got that relaxed look around him at all times. That’s his style.

On the flip side, you never see the royal family, for instance, wearing anything other than expensive tailored suits. There’s a certain look and feel to what you wear if you’re a royal.

It’s the same for a speaker. When you start your speaking career you need to choose your brand. And then everything you wear onstage and off needs to reflect your brand. So you need to get really clear about that.

Your clothes = Your Brand

Get Stylish!

So, have a think about your personal brand. Who is it you would like to model? Create a ‘brand board’ and look at the words which describe your brand. Also look at what it is you are wearing onstage and make sure that your clothing backs up your brand. And remember, have fun!

After reading this article, you decide that you want to create or update your brand, but would like to work on it with somebody unbiased, then you can contact me at Nicholl Consultancy and I would be delighted to have a chat with you.

Until next time - Be Successful!


Thursday, 4 August 2011

4 Ways to Handle Rejection in Business

“I take rejection as someone blowing a bugle in my ear

to wake me up and get me going,

rather than retreat.”

(Sylvester Stallone)

This article was written by Rieva Lesonsky CEO/President of Growbiz Media

As business owners, we face rejection in many ways. Whether we’re trying to get financing, land a new client or negotiate a deal with a potential partner, it’s inevitable that we’ll hear “no” at least some—if not most—of the time.
But successful entrepreneurs don’t let rejection get them down. Instead, they learn from it and use it to grow their businesses.

Do the maths

If you take every rejection personally, you’ll struggle to grow your business. Try taking the personal out of the rejection equation. One technique many salespeople use: Track how many contacts, cold calls or sales calls you have to make before you get to “yes.” It is possible to quantify the average number of attempts it takes to get a sale. If you do this, you can look at every “no” as one step closer to that “yes.” Instead of getting defeated by rejection, you’ll grow to see it as just one step on the path to your ultimate goal.

Ask questions and listen to the answers

When a prospect doesn’t buy or a potential partner doesn’t follow through with the deal, ask them their reason for saying no—and listen carefully to their answer. Your goal is not to try and change their mind (although that may be the ultimate outcome) but simply to learn. Urge them to be completely honest—and don’t get defensive. Simply listen to their reasons, ask more questions if you need to, and then thank them for their honesty. Their reasons for saying no may surprise you.

Assess the problem

Once you know why the other person rejected your offer, you can evaluate whether the problem lies with your business, or whether this particular relationship simply isn’t a good fit. For example, do you regularly hear from prospects that your prices are too high or is it just this particular person who feels that way? If the reason for rejection lies with the other party, and not with your offer, it may be best to just move on to your next prospect.

Make changes when warranted

If you’ve heard the same “complaint” from several prospects or if your efforts to form strategic partnerships with other businesses are regularly rejected due to concerns about your business’s ability to deliver, it’s time to make some changes. Smart entrepreneurs don’t keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Adjust your approach as needed. If you keep fine-tuning your approach, you’ll likely find that you get fewer “no’s” and more “yeses.”

Rejection will never disappear from your business life. And, given the lessons it can teach, you shouldn’t want it to. Facing rejection doesn’t make you a failure—but failing to learn from it just might.

If you would like to work with me to explore how to increase your business success the contact me at Nicholl Consultancy.

Until next time - enjoy the summer!


Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Another 5 Ways to be Happy without being Perfect!

"Happiness is not a matter of good
fortune or worldly possessions.
It's a mental attitude.
It comes from appreciating what we have,
instead of being miserable about what we don't have.
It's so simple - yet so hard for the human mind to comprehend."
Bits and Pieces

This is an extract from an article written by the psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos and printed in Woman & Home June 2011. It is so relevant to my current blog thread that I couldn't have put it better myself, so I haven't tried.
I hope you enjoy it.

6. Don't let yourself be pigeonholed - Challenge the ideas that you're "less perfect" as you get older and never allow age to define you.

7. Be Open to Change - Naturally happy people tend to be better at accepting change. Being adaptable is a great asset and if you can be open to what life throws at you, you're likely to feel happier. Change, especially when unexpected, can be scary, but try and roll with the punches instead of fighting it.

8. Find your own "Good Enough" - Look at where your goals have come from and learn to define success on your own terms. For instance, you may have taken a mega-stressful job, deciding your value lies in a big salary, buy maybe this stems from parental expectations. So ask yourself "When am I happiest?"

9. Live in the moment - Every day, look in the mirror and ask yourself "If this was my last day, would I be happy doing what I'm doing today?" If the answer is no for too many days in a row, perhaps it is time to change what you are doing. Of course, we all have obligations, but this exercise can be a real wake-up call.

10. Laugh at yourself - When you are able to laugh at yourself, it shows you accept the real you, imperfections and all. Once you get in the habit, it is amazing how easy it becomes. It's a trait that many happy people share -they could have exactly the same day as someone else, but would find snatches of humour in little moments, which others might miss. Retrain your brain to think like an optimist and find something to laugh at every day.

If these simple steps, feel too difficult to work through on your own, then just get in touch with me at Nicholl Consultancy and we can work through them together.

Until next time - Be happy!


Monday, 23 May 2011

5 Ways to be Happy without being Perfect!

Most folks are about as happy

as they make up their minds to be.

~Abraham Lincoln

This is an extract from an article written by the psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos and printed in Woman & Home June 2011. It is so relevant to my current blog thread that I couldn't have put it better myself, so I haven't tried.

I hope you enjoy it.

1. Forget the word "Must"

Next time you hear yourself thinking "I must" "I should" or "I have to", stop and challenge that thought. As soon as those words enter our heads life feels like a chore. Our sense of control goes out of the window, along with our sense of fun! Reframe the way you see your "musts" in life, so you feel like you're doing things on your own terms.

2. See mistakes as a journey

Sure, things go wrong sometimes, but no one is supposed to be perfect in life - everything we do, right and wrong, is a journey towards either understanding ourselves or a situation. We all have an internal bully, but negative self talk is counterproductive. Instead, focus on what you can learn from your mistakes.

3. Be the Unedited you

This is all about learning to let go of self-consciousness. No one has the right to judge you, and accepting that, is the first step towards being the 'unedited" you. Learn to break the habit of shaping your personality to fit those around you. People-pleasing won't bring happiness ultimately, and remember you could have lots of friends telling you you're great, but if you can't fight your internal critic, you'll struggle to be happy.

4. Don't over-analyse

Whether it's your boss or a so-called friend who fires a killer insult at you, instead of dwelling on it, only give yourself a set amount of time (say 15 minutes) to think it over. Ask, "Is there anything I can learn from this comment? Do I want to confront them about it?" If nothing positive can come from it, then don't let is take up headspace, which could be given to healthier, happier thoughts. There's a great saying: there are only two things to worry about:

  • 1. Things you can fix - in which case, fix them.

  • 2. Things you can't fix - in which case, stop worrying about them!

5. Pick your Fights

No matter how great your relationship, everyone has the odd bicker. It may be you've got in the habit of picking up on the little things, instead of addressing the fundamentals. So he didn't do the dishes. Ask yourself, "What's the real issue?" Possibly you feel it shows a lack of respect. Look out for any patterns or recurring themes, then talk to him about what is really bugging you. Next check if what you heard is what was actually said. Did he really say "I can't be bothered to chat" or is he just tired? Reflecting on what you've heard helps clear up any miscommunication, making for a happier relationship.

If you would like to talk through with me the barriers to your happiness, please contact me at Nicholl Consultancy and I'll be delighted to work alongside you.

My next article will explore a further 5 barriers to your happiness, so until then

Bye for now and keep smiling!


Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Is Perfectionism paralysing you?

Striving for excellence motivates you;

striving for Perfectionism is demoralising.

Harriet Braiker

Firstly, let's be clear about what a 'Perfectionist' is. According to the Oxford Dictionary it means "a person who seeks perfection" ok then, what is perfection? Again according to the dictionary it is 'without faults or defects'. Now, I don't know about you but I don't know anybody or anything without faults or defects, can you imagine how boring the world would be if everything was perfect - what would the creator of the world do for an encore?

To quote Rosalynn Carter "Once you accept the fact that you're not perfect, then you develop some confidence. If you are wondering whether or not you're a perfectionist, there's a good chance that you are one!

Don't get me wrong, doing things to the best of your ability is absolutely great, 80% is often good enough nothing really has to be 120%! However if you constantly put yourself down, no matter how well you do or you expect too much from those around you or put off starting something because you haven't yet got a plan to make it perfect, then how happy and productive are you going to be - my guess is not very.

Even though we live in an imperfect world, there are those who are obsessed with making their lives absolutely perfect. However, if we leave no room for error, then no matter what challenge or project or piece of work we take on, the end result will always be a disappointment.

I shall let you into a little secret - but I need to whisper it - I am a perfectionist - there I've said it and boy is it hard work. For example, I have been meaning to write this blog since Monday and it is now 5pm on Wednesday, what kept me? Well, the house needed to be hoovered, the tumble dryer needed the fluff taken out of the filter and the lawn needed to be cut and of course my office needed to be tidied before I could possibly sit down and start to collect my thoughts about perfectionism!

So, today I decided that no matter what, I was doing to do this blog and I am actually in a rather untidy office and that is not the way I like to work, but I am making myself do it and you know what, once I started to write, I actually forgot the slight mess around me and got absorbed by what I was doing and the world didn't stop!

One of my friends phoned me at lunch time and told me that she was having an admin day because tomorrow she would have to start preparing a set of workshops that she will be delivering in a couple of weeks time, but she said, she didn't know how long they would take her, because she had to do loads of research and plan the templates she wanted to use, and, and, and .... then I said to her, what research? what templates? These are not completely new workshops, you won the contract because you have delivered these subjects before, so you just need to put them together in a more bespoke way geared towards this particular client, so stop making excuses! She agreed that, that was exactly what she was doing and then - eureka, she said she felt so motivated and realised that the first pass didn't have to be perfect, then she flashed up her computer whilst we were still talking and made a start.

So, when are you going to have your 'Eureka' moment?

When are you going to stop setting your goals out of reach? - Stretched is great and very necessary but don't set yourself unrealistic standards.

Baby steps will take you out of the perfectionism trap, slowly but surely - mine today was working in a slightly messy office and getting this blog written - leave me a comment to let me know what is your baby step?

Before writing this, I did some research - which won't surprise you now you know I am/was a perfectionist! So I have lots more hints and tips about what perfectionists need to watch out for, if you would like more articles on this subject, then leave me a comment.

Also, if you want help to accept that 80% is good enough, then get in touch with me at

Nicholl Consultancy to fix up your free 45 minute session. This can be over the phone, so distance is not a barrier.

Now I can get on with tidying my office!

Until next time - Just Do It!

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Thoughts about Networking

It isn't just what you know, and it isn't just who you know.

It's actually who you know, who knows you,

and what you do for a living.

~ Bob Burg

Since I started my business a few years ago, I knew that it was necessary for me to 'get out there' and network in order to get known and to build relationships. Because, like it or not, people buy from people they like, know and trust, it is very unlikely that they buy from strangers - you don't do you, so why should anybody else?

I tried a few network groups, I found some to be too formal for me, others were all female groups and I found that I didn't like that. Then I tried
4 Networking and I really enjoyed it. The breakfast meetings are really well structured but remain very friendly and there at 290 groups all around the country, so once you are a member, wherever you are based or doing business, you can pop into a local group and you are made very welcome.

At each meeting you give a 40 second pitch about your business, you have 3 ten minute 1-2-1 appointments with people of your choosing to learn more about them and their business, and there is a 10 minute 4 Sight presentation, which is an opportunity to learn something new, it is not a sales pitch.

According to the 4 Networking blurb it:
  • provides personal and business support
  • somewhere to give and receive advice
  • a place to find good quality, reliable suppliers
  • allows you to develop valuable collaborations and alliances
  • a balance of 50% business, 50% social ... and it works!
  • ideal for gaining introductions to new business.
It also has a brilliant on-line Forum, which Google just loves.

4 Networking is my group of choice, I enjoy the meetings, I have gained a number of new clients and great opportunities, plus I have met useful suppliers and also made some good friends.

So if you want to get out and about in order to grow your business I recommend
4 Networking and if you want to have somebody alongside you as your business grows and thrives then get in touch with me at for a chat.

I would also love to hear about your experience of networking - just leave me a comment.

Until next time - great networking!


Friday, 18 March 2011

Handling Customer Complaints

"You can handle anything if you think you can.

Just keep your cool and your sense of humour."

Smiley Blanton

Twelve golden rules:

· Treat all complaints seriously, don’t take the complaint or criticism personally;

· make your first response positive;

· don’t rush onto the defensive;

· try to resolve the complaint as your first objective;

· avoid using jargon that the customer might not understand;

· if there has been a mistake – acknowledge it and apologise;

· be prepared to take responsibility for other people’s mistakes;

· take the initiative with suggestions to put things right and offer choices;

· try to make amends – however don’t make promises you can’t keep;

· if the customer is wrong, don’t embarrass them if you need to point it out;

· be tactful and learn from mistakes;

· watch your body language; say you’re sorry with your actions as well as your words.

If you find dealing with complaints from customers difficult or would like to become more assertive, then do get in touch with me at Nicholl Consultancy.

Until next time - stay calm!