“Good judgement comes from experience and a lot of that comes from bad judgement.” Will Rogers
I started my first business (Zig Zag magazine) at the age of 19 and went on to work with over 200 companies and public services worldwide. It took me a long time to recognize that there is more to a good business than simply making money for shareholders. As a consequence, I’m on a mission to support ethical governance in all walks of life.
There are two challenges that need to be met by every business. The first is how to ensure that their customer gets what they want and the second is how to create a culture of happy, engaged, productive staff. My primary skills are therefore to help owner-managers make high value sales and to build powerful teams. There is a connection between these, as the key to releasing the genius of a business (and achieving remarkable results) is found in enthusiastic cooperation.
The results are increased profit, satisfaction and true sustainability. As a side-effect of us working together, you and your staff will become more content, engaged and fulfilled. You will transform the lives of everyone involved in your organization, including your clients.
My secondary skills come from direct P&L responsibility for a business with substantial turnover and operations in several countries. I have practical experience in leadership, change management, sales and marketing. Whilst I offer my knowledge, skills and experience to you, your ability to grow the right culture far surpasses the value that I alone can bring.
Love of Music
My own business story began with a lucky break, after slogging around grey wet London streets straight out of school and desperate for a job where I could use my love of music. I found a home with EMI producing film and TV soundtracks and spent a few very happy years dashing in and out of recording studios. By just 21 I was running three companies in music and publishing, travelling to New York and living the dream! By 25 I was burnt out and needed a brief spell of travelling before a return to writing jingles and TV soundtracks in London. It was around then that I developed a strong interest in exotic Eastern sounds and Indonesian gamelan in particular.
Later it became evident that, despite becoming one of the highest music royalty earners in the UK, my career wasn’t meeting the needs of a growing family. I was fortunately offered the role editor-in-chief in the media division International Thomson, a one-time publisher of The Times newspaper, as well as a big group of media titles led by ‘Broadcast’ magazine.
A twinkle in the eye
Thomson sent me around the world meeting broadcasters and technology companies at a time when ‘digital’ and ‘high definition’ were just a twinkle in their eye. Then an opportunity came to branch out on my own, so I grabbed it and set up a consultancy within Charles Barker, Europe’s biggest PR company. My mission was clear, to help companies as much as I could in any way that I could. That has never changed. Despite often working with journalists, I never thought of myself as “PR person” but as someone who is articulate, rational, honest and enthusiastic about new media and technology. It seemed to work.
My first client was a little tech start-up (Avid) from the US that grew from under $1m turnover to over $100m in three years; heady stuff for those times. I was invited to direct communications for the launch of the internet (aka ‘The Information Society’) for the European Commission; Sky’s transition from analogue to digital; and then the BBC’s ‘Digital Revolution’, where both the skills and morale of TV programme-makers were transformed.
Happiness in the workplace has always fascinated me and the BBC proved that one could attain both huge financial goals and generate huge satisfaction for all concerned.
Qatar and Home
After pitching and winning a multi-million dollar contract to work with an energy company in the Gulf, I found myself starting a new company in the bone dry, sunny climate of Qatar. This was fantastic timing as the country was accelerating its growth on the back of a huge petrochemical cash surplus. It led to further enormous contracts, helping telecoms, science, technology and gas-energy clients to reach a global audience. These projects required me to manage multiple teams of designers, film-makers, event organizers, PR people, advertisers and other talented individuals to cooperate under demanding conditions to consistently produce world-class work. Profitably. That was tough.
Five years later I returned to the UK and Cornwall. My first step was to examine what lessons could be learnt from these experiences. I also read widely and wrote an essay every day for over a year. The key conclusion is that good business is based on ethical governance, as this provides the foundation of trust. It’s all about the culture. You can see a short video sequence about this here. Ethical governance is therefore the cornerstone both of my approach to advising business as well as voluntary work I do to protect the precious landscape and people of Cornwall.
The wider challenge from is how we can satisfy our region’s unique ‘triple bottom line’ of community, economic development and environment. But that’s another story…