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Business Beach Reads 2015

2015 July 23

Some people love to relax on holiday, taking time to smell the roses (or the Ambre Solaire) and forget all the work worries.  Other people hate the idea of relaxing, but can tolerate slowing down just enough to read some business books and get some inspiration on vacation.  If you’re the sort of person who hides a copy of The Economist inside a lifestyle, fashion or sports magazine to fake relaxation, then here’s some ideas for your Kindle this summer:

The Misfit Economy

Misfit Economy Ever felt like you didn’t really fit in?  Ever sat staring out at the ocean, or down from a skyscraper, wondering how you would cope with life as a pirate, drug runner or people trafficker?  Our advice is that you should never try those career options, but do think about what you could learn from them.

How can someone with no educational advantages set up and run a successful crime cartel, organising networks of people, ensuring a motivated workforce, forging deals across international boundaries, and keeping law enforcement off their trail?  The Misfit Economy explores what can be learned from what the authors euphemistically call “informal entrepreneurs”, it turns out, there’s quite a lot.


Winners: And How They Succeed

Winners We’ll resist the easy snark that comes from a segue from gangsters to Alistair Campbell, and look instead at why Campbell has something interesting to say about winning.  As someone who has had his fair share of lows, he knows the difference between winning and losing.  Having had a successful career in politics, training in journalism, and a passion for sports, he has great contacts and knows how to talk to them about success.

There’s more than a hint of failure in the book, but the “winners” responses to failure may just be what makes them successful in life.  An easy read, with a few political anecdotes thrown in for fun, this is a good wind-down book to ease you into your holiday.


A Curious Mind: The Secret To A Bigger Life

Curious Mind You may never have heard of Brian Grazer, but you will have heard of films and TV shows he’s produced.  He counts A Beautiful Mind, Splash, Apollo 13, Arrested Development and 8 Mile among his successes.  A curious mix of films from a curious man.

He attributes much of his success to his curiosity, making time every week to talk to interesting strangers and people who have a different world view and a different set of talents to his own.  Rather than only hanging out with movie types, gaining a deeper understanding of his industry, he recommends getting out there and learning about other lives.

You could read this book and learn something, or head out of your hotel and go to a gallery or museum, take a stroll through a local market or go talk to strangers in a cafe.  Your choice.



What 8 Years Of Practice Looks Like In 6 Minutes

2015 July 22
by Prosperos World

What are you practicing?

You’re Gonna Sell More … Tommorrow

2015 July 3
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by Prosperos World

Sorrento Go ahead and sing along, just like Annie, and the sun will come out tomorrow.  Or maybe it won’t.  It doesn’t really matter to your sales results (unless you’re in the ice cream business).  What does matter is you and your cheerful belief that it will.

There are certain professions where people just seem to naturally know how to make you pay more, and do it gladly, wait staff in restaurants are a great study in how people react.  The feedback is fairly straightforward, servers who do a great job get bigger tips.  It’s easy to observe and to do the maths.

If restaurant staff can use simple ways to quickly build rapport, improve the customer experience and up “wallet share” then how do they do it, and how can other sales people learn from them?

Use names: It can seem odd to a European that a waitperson introduces themselves by name, but they do it because it improves tips.  Tips go up even further if they use your name too, so if you book a table, the smart employee will use your booking information to call you by name.  Using names builds rapport (even though many waitresses use fake ones) so make sure you’re using your customers’ names in meetings.

Use eye contact: Many servers will squat down to eye level to make better eye contact with you.  It puts them on the same level as you, making it easier to connect.  Fortunately most sales people can achieve eye contact across a table or desk, but do aim to sit at 45 or 90 degrees to your customer rather than directly across a desk.

Compliment them: Sometimes you’ll hear a waitperson declare “great choice”, they do this whether you’ve ordered the fresh caught local fish, the bacon double cheese burger or the egg white omelette with kale juice.  It may or may not be a good choice, and let’s face it, you secretly know that some of your choices aren’t great, or that the server doesn’t really think you’re brilliant for ordering the sauce on the side and penne instead of linguine, but waitstaff who say “great choice” get better tips because their customers feel better about themselves.  Be positive about your customers questions, concerns and choices and you’ll sell more.

Be positive about tomorrow:  Here’s an odd fact.  If your waiter or waitress suggests that the weather will be better tomorrow, then on average, they’ll get more tips than when they don’t say that, or when they say the weather is getting worse.   We’re not suggesting you mention the weather in every meeting, or that you tell bare faced lies about how great some upcoming event will be, but maintaining a positive outlook about the future, and speaking positively about future interactions will help your customer to feel positive and to view you and your company as people who will be around for the future.

All together now … the sales will come out, tomorrow.

Which is the best match for your organisation structure?

2015 June 28
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by Prosperos World

How do you relate to your organisation, how do you fit into its structure?  Do other people view your organisation’s structure the same way you do?

Does information flow through your  organisation in the way that it was designed to?

Is your organisation’s design optimised for its function?

Here’s a handy field guide …

Org Structures

Read In Colour This Summer

2015 June 24
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by Prosperos World

If you’re looking to read something in shades other than Grey, then there’s a whole world of books out there.  This handy flowchart from helps you choose the right book for your mood…


Internet Trends For 2015

2015 June 22
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by Prosperos World

Here’s Kleiner Perkins Caufield’s Internet Trends report for 2015. There’s 196 slides to work through, there’s a lot of slides, so that’s a lot of trends, but don’t panic, it’s an interesting set, with human trends leading the way.

Mary Meeker’s her annual slide deck, showing (amongst many gems) the inexorable rise of mobile.  Worth finding the time to go through.  Give it a read and let us know what you think.

2015 Internet Trends Report from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

Hiring like a human

2015 May 26
by Prosperos World

Recruitment As the labour market picks up we’re increasingly hearing from our customers that it’s getting harder to recruit the right kind of people for their business.  In the UK this is especially true of engineers, scientists and technically qualified people.  There’s too few to go around and those who are doing a great job are rarely in the job market looking for something new.

The great thing about scientists, engineers and technicians is that they are bright, they can do the maths on any job offer you make and will have factored in all the financial costs and benefits.   They’ll know how long the commute is, they’ll know what they want as a package and they’re usually pretty clear about what they want in terms of the type of work they will be doing and the management style they prefer.

It’s not hard for bright and motivated people to get a job, a good job, just like the one you might be offering.  Yet when we look at how people are going about their recruitment and selection processes we often find that this fact doesn’t feature.  The process, and the human interactions within it, sometimes more closely resemble the “X-Factor” or “[Insert your country’s name]”s Got Talent” than an attempt to win the hearts and minds of great potential employees.  They are designed to minimise the effort of the hiring business and maximise the opportunities to turn people away, as though there were an infinite pool of candidates to choose from.  This approach is neither efficient nor effective.  Anyone getting through is likely to be desperate for the role, rather than intrigued, enthused and motivated by the opportunity.

When talking to people about recruiting we hear “it’s OK for people like Google, Microsoft and Apple“, after all they have big names and benefits packages that are trumpeted by star struck HR and business journalists, yet there are far better employers out there, and we’ve met plenty of people who have left those tech giants for better careers elsewhere.  Coursera compete directly with Facebook and Google for employees and they do it very well, not by offering driverless buses, more exotic fruit or bigger pool tables, but by treating potential new employees as humans, humans who could be great for the company.

Even people who you choose not to employ can be a great asset to your organisation if they feel they’ve been treated well in the recruitment process.  We have clients who have made brilliant hires of people who have been recommended by applicants they have previously rejected, as well as people they’ve hired 18 months after first meeting them as they’ve made a great connection, but the timing wasn’t right.  For help with your recruitment and onboarding process, talk to us.

Delta Just Spilled The Internet All Over The Place

2015 May 20
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Delta airlines have reworked their pre flight safety video for the internet generation.  Or maybe what a slightly confused person who just discovered the internet this morning thinks the internet is.  Either way it’s quite an impressive attempt to cram a decade or more of memes into one safety film everybody is so bored of seeing that all the airlines are trying to come up with new ways to present.

You could of course “Like” it, or share it on Reddit if you’re feeling internet retro.

A handy guide to UK elections for Americans

2015 May 6
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by Prosperos World

Jon Snow (not that one) gives us a quick overview of the UK elections, with an uncanny link to the Game of Thrones…

Influencing through questions – the RICH model

2015 April 14
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by Prosperos World

Happy? It is possible to gather information and to directly influence a situation through effective questioning:

Ask effective questions

  • Open questions – gather information – who, what, which, how, why, when, where?
  • Probing questions – ask for examples
  • Closed questions – get yes/no answers – gain commitment

RICH Model

  • Research – environment; past, present, future, their motivators etc.
  • Issues – examine the problems, challenges, dissatisfactions
  • Consequences – explore the outcomes or impact of the ‘issues’
  • Highlight Benefits – the desirability, usefulness, value of the solution

Listen to the answers

  • Demonstrate concern
  • Active listening
  • Empathic listening
  • Make detailed notes
  • Maintain rapport
  • Demonstrate mutual respect – even when you disagree.
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