What is it you’re NOT doing?

happy poster 300x300 What is it youre NOT doing?

Do you have quotes pinned to your wall?

Do you have one that says “Be honest”?

Or one that says “Wear clothes”?


That could be because you’re already in the habit of being honest and wearing clothes so you don’t need to remind yourself.

So if you pin something to your wall it usually means its something you want to do, but haven’t yet made a habit.

“Nothing wrong with that” I hear you mutter – and you’re right.


If you have something like the quote in this picture stuck to your wall, if you need reminding about something so fundamental, you probably need need help to make some changes.

If pinning a quote to the wall is your equivalent of ticking it off your mental ‘to do’ list, it will soon just become part of your wallpaper and nothing will change. If you notice it at some later time you’ll just get a guilty jolt that you did nothing about it. Eventually you’ll stop looking at it or take it down because it makes you feel bad.

If a quote resonates with you its usually because you need to change something and that means taking ACTION to form a new habit and that ain’t easy.

A new habit needs be in line with your values and your most important goals:

There’s no point in trying to get a new habit if you create a conflict:
You want to eat less but can’t bear to waste food.
You want to spend more time on your business but don’t want to spend less time with your family.
You want to read more books but also want to get more sleep.

One of the best ways to form a new habit is to make yourself accountable to someone else, someone who will encourage you and celebrate with you – not someone who will use it to beat you up and make you feel guilty.

For more information on deciding on your most important goals, values and creating new habits get my FREE workbook “How to Have Your Best Year, EveryYear”

To make lasting changes
talk to me  about peer group or 1:1 mentoring 

What have you got stuck on your wall? What is it you’re NOT doing?

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The New Trouble Shooter

A business show on TV that is actually about business!

Did you hear me cheer last night? I watched The New Trouble Shooter on BBC2, featuring (not starring) The Right Honourable The Lord Jones of Birmingham Kt.

Digby Marritt Jones, Baron Jones of Birmingham, is as far removed from Lord Sugar and the egos on Dragons Den as can be imagined. There was no shouting, no histrionics, no -one was humiliated, no-one sneered and other people were allowed to come up with good ideas that Lord Jones hadn’t thought of AND HE CONGRATULATED THEM FOR IT. (Sadly, that probably means it won’t be on for long).

Digby jones The New Trouble Shooter

With a long standing pedigree that gives him great insights into business his role on the show is to advise businesses on how to get the results they want.

Risk and reward

My favourite bit from this week’s show (Hawick Knitwear) was when discussing the potential risks and rewards of exporting to China, Lord Jones was faced with a very cautious MD.

“One of the problems, especially with small businesses, is because they are being quite successful in their niche in a small market they think: ‘Why do I need to risk all this? Why do I need to push out?’” Lord Jones said.

“But, of course, if you don’t go forward you always, relatively, go backwards.”

There’s a risk in doing nothing and a risk in doing something and the risks have to be managed. How we assess the risks determines how we act. Despite any protestations of weighing up pros and cons, we nearly always make decisions based on emotion and instincts rather than than on reason and rationality.

Starting a business is risky with 1 in 3 businesses failing within the first 3 years. 20% of businesses fail within the first year, and in the next 3 years 50% of those fail. (source: www.bis.gsi.gov.uk) This might indicate that people who start businesses are more likely to take risks

Are entrepreneurs risk takers?

One would think that these rates, which are known to every entrepreneur, would lead many to rethink their new business ventures; however, this is not the case. In light of this, researchers assumed that entrepreneurs are simply less risk-averse then others. However, much to their surprise, that wasn’t the case.

They found that when faced with uncertainty, a common experience in the entrepreneurial process, most people tend to overestimate their ability to control future events. We also  have a tendency to form a firm conclusion on an issue after gathering information from only a limited number of sources as when assessing a new idea, business opportunity, or potential market.

These biases are not necessarily bad, at least in the beginning stages of the entrepreneurial process. They allow entrepreneurs to explore and develop their ideas freely without being crippled by the fear of failure but later on, as a business grows, the tendency to make decisions on “gut feeling” may contribute to the large number of failures.

What do you think?



A Lust for Trust – the interview

Lust for Trust A Lust for Trust   the interview

Trust is a prerequisite for any transaction.

We talk a lot about getting to know, like and trust people but we often fall short of understanding exactly how to go about establishing trust.

You can’t just say “You can trust me” or “I’m trustworthy”. Its a bit like telling someone you’re funny when what you need to do is make them laugh.
Part of the trouble of defining trust is that it is usually recognised as a “gut feeling”.

How do you describe “trust”?

Feelings such as trust and loyalty are established by our limbic brain which is responsible for all of our feelings. It is also responsible for our behaviour and decision-making. Unfortunately this part of the brain has no capacity for language so we’re relying on recognising the feeling and then the language part of the brain takes over when we rationalize our decisions.

Trust is so important in the world of business and government that Edelman, the world’s largest PR firm, has been conducting trust surveys for  14 years.

We believe that trust is an asset that enterprises must understand and properly manage in order to be successful in today’s complex operating environment. Unlike reputation, which is based on an aggregate of past experiences with a company or brand, trust is a forward facing metric of stakeholder expectation. Edelman.com

Engagement and Integrity

Their latest Trust Barometer shows that Engagement and Integrity are two of the priority areas for  building trust. While trust in government, institutions and media has waned, trust in our peers has increased, which is great news for small businesses that relate on a very personal level with clients and customers.

Trust is a measure in of the belief in the honesty, fairness and benevolence of another party, and most importantly, in our belief that it will be reciprocated. In other words, trusting and being trusted in return gives us a chemical feel good rush.

I interviewed Sunil Bali, author of A Lust for Trust. (The book hasn’t been published yet so if you’d like to know when its available, follow Sunil’s blog)

Listen to the  interview here:  (apologies, the last few minutes are cut off – my fault!) 

The last few minutes of the recording were mostly me talking about other brands that demonstrate trust including Fair Finance, a company that offers disenfranchised people loans at reasonable interest rates because they believe that most people want to pay back what they borrow and when lending is designed to make this easy, very few people default  (unlike Wonga which is designed to create more debt).

The other company I mentioned is Patagonia, the outdoor clothing company that has always delivered on its promise to produce clothing that won’t wear out and to use materials that are kind to the environment. This has resulted in a healthy re-sale of items and Patagonia, rather than trying to suppress this and encourage people to buy new, has opened a store on E-bay with the sole purpose of making it easy for customers to re-sell their goods, further building on the trust that people have in the brand.

You can listen to interviews with Clive Rich of Lawbite and Faisel Rahmen of Fair Finance in The Radical Redesign of Business post.

When a brand is trusted people pay more, come back and tell others. 

If you’d like to share your own thoughts on what makes you trust people, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below or on The Inspired Group on LinkedIn or Google Plus

Are you humble, arrogant or just unaware?

Justin Timberlake Are you humble, arrogant or just unaware? “Pleased to meet you”

Do you know the name of the guy in the picture?

I’m not the best informed when it comes to pop stars but I was utterly bowled over when I watched an episode of The Voice UK   when a contestant was taken to meet the international superstar Justin Timberlake  - that’s him, in the picture.

As the unknown approached the star, he (the superstar) proffered his hand  and said “Hi I’m Justin”.

Now a guy like that could be forgiven for assuming that most people in the music industry know who he is. He could even be forgiven for assuming that a lot of the general public know who he is but there he was, INTRODUCING HIMSELF.

I immediately took notice. Someone with that level of awareness of putting other people at ease, of not making assumptions, is worth taking notice of.

I’ve been to networking events where the idea is to meet people, get to know, like and trust them and maybe do business with them, where that level of self awareness would work wonders.

A place where everybody knows your name?

People, there is no such place. You may think you are a big fish in small pond and that folks know (or should know) who you are.

You may simply be so unused to such gatherings that you’re not aware that someone would like to introduce you but has forgotten or never knew your name.

Either way, please, ease the social interaction by simply copying the superstar and saying your name every time, as many times as necessary, always and forever, so that no-body feels awkward or worse, walks away without ever  learning your name.

That simple gesture  turned me into a fan of Mr. Timberlake that has nothing to do with his prowess as a musician, singer, producer and entertainer. I’m a fan of his awareness and humility and his desire to put someone at ease.

It’s such a simple thing to do but it speaks volumes.

In any interaction, its never about you, its always about the person you’re meeting. If you focus on them and not on you, you’ll be the superstar.

Passion and Purpose

Kiss Copy Passion and Purpose  Why we should do business with people who share our passion and purpose

In his charismatic TED talk, Simon Sinek says that our goal shouldn’t be to do business with everyone who needs what we provide, our goal should be to find the people who believe what we believe and who want to work with us as partners.

Tesco has recently had an epiphany. It discovered that a large number of its customers, suppliers and employees regarded the company as a predator. It  has taken the decision to change the way it operates and, in the words of Matt Atkinson, CEO, “to rebuild the business to be a partner, not a predator”.

Why? Perhaps because in 2012 Tesco posted the first drop in profits in over 20 years and they’ve recognised that, as the internet and social networks make customers and their views more powerful, the whole way businesses treat their customers needs to change.

The art of making partners of customers applies to all businesses and it starts with the passion of the business owner and the purpose of the business. 

Its not enough to say our businesses exist to solve a problem for our customers, what we need to do is make it clear what we believe about the work we do so that those who believe what we believe want to become our partners, not just our customers, suppliers or employees.

Here’s my example:

The purpose of The Inspired Group is to Inspire Business Owners to Help Each Other Through Collaborative Learning.

“Members of The Inspired Group believe that people who start their own businesses have put their hopes and dreams into what they do and that its important to take care of each other and help to nurture those dreams. We believe that its great to learn with and from each other and to share what we know. We believe in aligning what we do with who we are.  We believe that building a business is about building a life, not just a living. Want to join us?

What is your purpose and passion? Will it attract the people you really want to work with?  Need some help to get it clear?

Are you ready for the Collaborative Economy?

confusion Are you ready for the Collaborative Economy?

The Collaborative Economy is going corporate.

Million dollar businesses like Airbnb, Lyft and LendingClub are a few examples of  businesses that use technology to enable large numbers of people to rent or borrow or otherwise pay for things that other people want to get paid for, whether its a spare room, a spare seat in a car or some spare cash. 

These businesses are being branded as part of the “sharing” economy, tapping in to people’s desire to deal directly with each other rather than use the traditional agencies.

At the other end of the spectrum there are some stunning examples of collaboration in the use of of creative commons licences and open source programmes that encourage the free sharing of things published on the web.

Most of us are familiar with the idea of sharing images on Flickr and the code used for free blogging platforms like WordPress. Some recent additions to this are open source architect’s blueprints via Paperhouse and plans for prosthetic limbs that can be made with 3D printers, making both of these expensive items available to many more people. General Electric is making its patents available to crowd sourced inventions on Quirky. This is sharing that is not about making money.

Sharing or renting?

However, most things that are described as being part of the “sharing” economy are simply using innovative technology to create collaborations and new, profit making business models.

A recent survey of 90,000 people by Crowd Companies showed that most people use these services because of convenience and price and not for any altruistic reasons.

Paradoxically, the growing rejection of big corporations and their dominance in the consumer world and a desire to support locally sourced solutions is fuelling the growth of collaborative initiatives.

Big brands see the opportunity

Not to be outdone, the most recent entrants to the sharing economy are big brands that have seen the opportunities.

BMW is offering a subscription based car-sharing scheme, big retailers are crowd sourcing new designs from their customers and making over part of their stores to Etsy’s artisans, Patagonia is providing a buy back service for its customers worn-wear items, simultaneously providing a platform for people to talk about the adventures the clothes have seen while emphasising the quality of their items.

In all this confusion of terms and ideals, one thing is clear: New business models are all around us and it’s an exciting place to be.

Small businesses in particular have a great opportunity to collaborate and use crowd sourcing and crowd funding or to work with those brands that want to be seen as being part of this new economy.

How does your business fit in this world? Are there new opportunities and collaborations to be explored?

If you enjoy this blog you may like to explore my  on-line solutions to a better business :
“The Social Media Opportunity for Small Businesses”
“The Seven Steps to Your Successful Business”

Why you should blog with passion

 Why you should blog with passion Blogging with passion gets great results.

In this refreshingly honest and funny interview Sam Collett talks about how she became an award winning blogger with her property blog “What Sam Saw Today”

Sam started her blog because she loved writing about her adventures in the property market. She doesn’t use catchy subject lines, optimise for SEO or employ any of the other techniques that most professional bloggers recommend.

She attracts approx 5,500 readers a month – not huge by some standards but numbers that many bloggers would envy.

Techniques v Content

While an undeniably smart cookie in many areas, Sam professes to know little about the mechanics of blogging and uses the same WordPress theme that she started with in 2010.

She mentions in the interview that, in an attempt to become more “professional”, she started following some of the popular “How to Blog” blogs but found that the techniques they espoused detracted from her writing and she stopped enjoying it. She decided to go back to her natural style of writing and to forget all the techniques that are supposed to make your blog more popular.

Blogging led Sam to successfully pitch for a regular column with the Evening Standard Homes & Property, and two book publishing deals for How to Buy Property at Auction and Property Investment: The Essential Rules.

On being proactive on both these fronts Sam says, “You can’t just blog and sit back and expect people to notice you and come and offer you things. My blog is the proof that I can write but I still went out and got the deals I wanted and made things happen.”

Be true to yourself

Sam puts the success of her blog down to a very simple thing: she writes in a way that she enjoys about things she loves.

I see this simple strategy work time and time again in many different ways. Transparency, openness and lack of attempts to manipulate lead people who share your values to connect with you and want to be part of what you do. In Sam’s case, creating great content is easy because she talks about what she believes in.

Sam is a regular tweeter @whatsamsawtoday , and can be found on FacebookG+ and the online property forum: “Landlord Network” on LinkedIn. She describes her social networking as “having conversations with people” and doesn’t use it to incessantly plug her blog.

Listen to Sam’s disarming interview and Q&A from Cambridge Bloggers Meetup 


I’ve just heard that Sam has won  Best Blog AND Best Blog Post in the PrimeLocation Blog Awards.

How do you create trust?

blame 4 How do you create trust?
People may know you and like you but will they trust you?

The know, like and trust formula is bandied around a lot in business but the big question remains. How do you get people to trust you enough to do business with you?

My good friend Sunil Bali wrote this on his blog:  

There are 5 reasons people don’t buy (your product or service). The first four are easy to deal with.

  1. No want
  2. No need
  3. No money
  4. No hurry

The 5th reason is the most difficult to contend with. That 5th reason is no trust.

You can only build trust by being yourself.

You win people over by consistently sharing your values, your beliefs, and your stories.

Wearing a mask on the other hand wears you out. Faking it is fatiguing. The most exhausting activity is pretending to be who you know you’re not.

When you choose you, there’s a good chance that others will choose you.

Being personal is far more important than being perfect. 

Follow Sunil’s blog for more like this but beware! He includes groan inducing jokes in every post!

I have recurring conversations with people about their presence on social networks. It’s usually along the lines of “Will I upset potential clients or harm my brand if I reveal too much about myself?”

My reply is always: “If you try to hide who you really are you’ll end up with clients you hate who don’t appreciate you.”

Social networks provide the ideal opportunity to show the world who you really are, what your values are and, more importantly, that other people trust you.

They’re also a good place to see who other people really are ………

Lately I’ve been quoting Simon Sinek a lot. His answer to the trust question is simply this:

“Don’t try to sell to everyone who might need your product or service, find the people who believe what you believe and they will gladly buy from you.”

I recently interviewed Paul Taylor from Bromford, a social business that actively encourages all of its 1200 staff members to usual social networks freely to connect with each other and their clients. Since taking this bold step they have recruited more talent and got more business because the world can see the real values that the organisation embodies.

Another revealing interview came from Sam Collett, the award winning property blogger of What Sam Saw Today.  When I asked Sam why her blog was so popular (5,500 readers a week) she said she doesn’t employ any of the usual techniques of catchy headlines and keywords, she writes exactly what she feels and attracts readers who appreciate her for who she really is. This approach earned her a weekly column in the Evening Standard and a book deal with a major publisher.

“Being yourself” definitely pays!

If you enjoy this blog you may like to explore my  on-line solutions to a better business :
“The Social Media Opportunity for Small Businesses”
“The Seven Steps to Your Successful Business”

Are you solving problems or creating delight?

 Dance Are you solving problems or creating delight?

Most businesses are started to solve a problem.

A few create delight.

If you can do both you should not only be very successful but you’ll probably be very satisfied and fulfilled as well.

Do your customers have a pain they need your solution to alleviate or do they have an irrational passion for something that you can supply? Can you combine the two?

It’s not always as obvious  as it might seem. It all comes down to what you’re really selling.

These three famous brands seem to have it nailed. What do you think they’re selling?

Revlon1 Are you solving problems or creating delight? Harley Davidson Bike Are you solving problems or creating delight? nike tick Are you solving problems or creating delight?









On the face of it (sorry) Revlon could be seen to be solving the problem of imperfect skin or ageing. Harley Davidson might have started by solving a transport problem and Nike is solving the need that sports people have for high performance equipment and garments.

According to their own PR Nike sells winning; Revlon sells hope; Harley Davidson sells freedom.

Could you combine a winning combination of need and want for your business? 
What are you favourite examples of businesses that combine problem solving with creating delight?





You don’t need New Year resolutions!

New year resolution jpg You dont need New Year resolutions!

To make changes, what you need are some new friends and new habits!

It’s been said we are a combination of the 5 people we spend most time with. 

Look at the people you hang out with all of the time. its likely that your eating habits, overall health, wealth, and levels of success are similar. What does that mean when you want to make changes?

We can’t change in isolation. Everything we do affects the people around us so this means that if you want to change, either you friends need to change with you or you need to associate with different people.

Most things happen without a plan. Many of them are good things: friendships, falling in love, finding great music, food or art, or things that make you laugh. Spontaneity and serendipity are important.

However, if you want to achieve something it means making space in your life and taking action until you’ve created new habits that become an integral part of your life.

If you’ve struggled to stick to a plan to achieve your goals (and who hasn’t?) it may be useful to think of goals in these two very different ways.

A RESULT oriented goal would be to lose a stone in weight by a particular date. This can sometimes result in embarking on a plan of action that you hate and you have to grit your teeth every day to move closer to your goal.

A PROCESS oriented goal would be to eat healthily and exercise every day and because you focus on the process you are more likely to choose one that you enjoy and can keep at until it turns into a new life habit. An important point about this is that however much you want the result, if you hate the process you are unlikely to succeed. Finding a process that is enjoyable is the best way to achieve any goal.

How long does it take to make a new habit?

The popular view is that it takes 21 days to create a new habit but a new book by psychologist Jeremy Dean  “Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick” reveals that this figure is wrong. Dean’s research shows that the length of time it takes to create a new habit varies enormously so don’t beat yourself up and don’t give up if the new habits don’t come easily.

You don’t have to do alone.

There are four crucial people that you need to have on your team in order to make the changes you’ve identified:

A Mentor – This is someone you know who has had success in the areas in which you want to be successful.  If you’re unfit and want to be healthy and strong, find somebody who used to be unfit and is now healthy and strong and find out how they did it. (Remember you have to like the process or it won’t work for you).  If you want to earn more, learn to sing, open a shop, win a medal, find somebody who has had that experience and learn EVERYTHING you can about how they did it.

A Buddy – This is someone who is struggling with the same things, working on the same stuff as you.  When you have a bad day, this person knows exactly how you feel.  Because you’re both striving for the same goals, you have somebody to bounce ideas around with, share triumphs and struggles with. Caution: don’t take the buddy support as far as going down the plughole together. Understanding its hard doesn’t mean you support each other in giving up.

A Student – The BEST way to get better at something is to teach it to somebody else.  If you think you need to be an expert in order to teach, think of expertise on a scale of 1- 100. If you’re a 5 you can help out the 1-4′s.  Find somebody that needs help, maybe a co-worker or friend who wants to do what you’re doing and teach them how to get started.  As you get better and learn from your mentor, you can then compare are share this with your buddy and then help teach it to your student.

A Cheerleader – This is the person who will always be in your corner, cheering you on. They’ll believe in you more than you believe in yourself, have high expectations, keep you on your toes, push you outside of your comfort zone, make you try new things, not let you settle for less, dust you off when you fall and push you back out there.

The best year of your life is within reach if you focus on creating new habits. The first step is to begin.

This is an extract from the workbook “How to Have Your Best Year Yet” If you’d like a copy of the workbook just ask 

What are your best tips for making changes that stick?