Smiles, Shared Experience, and Seeing Is Believing

Our Official Photographer has a knack.  Justin Wharmby has a knack for “capturing the moment” and what many of us now have come to see as the “Signature Style” that defines The-Boardroom-Network-Experience”

It’s in the smile

Just look at this sequence of shots starring Clare Yates and Chris Palmer!

Caption Competition?

Now that I know what they were talking about, I can understand the delight!  Perhaps we should have a ‘reveal’ at the next meeting.  OK, to the serious point.  Any sustainable business practice needs to be pleasurable.  From staff and customer engagement, through to marketing your business, a smile goes a long way!  It is the Universal Declaration:

I’m OK; You’re OK!

It says,

This is a GOOD way to do business, in a GOOD place, with GREAT people…

And it is the signature style at Elite Business Women Clubs and The Boardroom Network.

A smile costs nothing – and membership with us costs almost the same.  I’ve called this blog, “Smiles, Shared Experience, and Seeing Is Believing,” because that summarises the TBN/EBW experience for me.  Personally, I went on to have two stand-out one-to-one meetings with Ian Skinner and Chris Wilkinson respectively, enjoyed after an additional experience of what I can only describe as “Generous Accounting” with the Stephen Sellers Seminar.

Generous Accounting

One of the many aspects I enjoyed about the generosity of the Grant Sellers’ team was the fact that it really was a team delivery. Any business that is going to scale up needs to harness the unique talents, gifts, and abilities of a team.  Stephen top-and-tailed a very important presentation on Making Tax Digital for VAT, but passed over the microphone and delivery of key content to Kim Upshall, Jessica Edroff, and Juliet Coleman.  What I saw in this was a massive commitment to adding value to the network.  Not only was the valuable content made available free of charge, fielding almost the whole team said to me, “We value you.”  The prize draw was additionally generous – which was a lot of adding up value for an accountancy presentation!

Shared Experience

Let me return to Ian Skinner and Chris Wilkinson.  I make no secret of this: I am a raving fan of both of them.  Of course, Chris treating me to lunch after the event certainly helps!  Aside from being very engaging company, they both consistently discuss with me their ideas to build a network we have all come to be proud to play our part in.  So let’s return to the point about a smile being free and membership of TBN being almost the same!

I was shocked to discover the cost of networking.  I believe networking is essential marketing spend for any serious business but didn’t realise what some of the other networks charge per area!  This was another ‘Aha!’ moment of distinction that I hadn’t yet valued about the TBN experience.  To understand anew that we can go to Solstice and Solent for just the meeting fee rather than two additional membership fees delighted me.  Please understand me – I am not knocking any other networks – they all have value (networking is a numbers-game and an action sport!), however, my appreciation of how we are different was enhanced.


“From the Cradle to the Grave…”

If Making Tax Digital for VAT was about the benefit of real-time business information, Chris Wilkinson is someone who’s run the numbers.  If you’ve not yet seen Chris’ testimonial (you can watch it here), let me say Chris knows the return Expert HR Solutions are getting on their marketing-spend at TBN.  I say, “Marketing-Spend,” with a caveat.  Chris is the member I see most regularly having one-to-ones after events – something Steve Bieniek has received recognition and a reward for too.  These are members who invest more-than-average time in relationships and can quantify the results.

Chris came up to present accompanied by the theme tune, “The Stripper!”  Faces were once again ‘a picture’!  This was an homage to Aaron Whiffin’s presentation the month before – giving a great sense of continuity, matched by an even greater sense of humour.  Whilst he kept his clothes on, a picture of the very young Chris was covered less completely!

Chris was born in the Lake District, and is, as he described, a “Glow-in-the-Dark-Child!”  His Dad was a Nuclear Chemist at Windscale – conceived at the time of the tragic atomic accident.  If the lights were to go off, we were told not to worry, we’d still be able to see!

Learning to sail on the Lakes, Chris was proficient in sailing by the age of five… and went on a ‘short’ career in the Navy (20 years) and a most impactful role with the RNLI.  Moving to Dorset ushered in happy years with the Hardye School – where active involvement in the Cadets, Hockey, and Rugby balanced Chris lesser enthusiasm for study!  His skills in these areas led to representing his County and the Royal Navy.

Winning a scholarship to the Royal Navy… getting in as an Executive Officer (rather than his original intention to enlist serve as an Engineer).  Chris served through the Falklands and both Gulf Wars… and, allegedly, he knows how to kill without making a sound!  (More on that in the conclusion…)

Selected to be a Staff Officer at the Officers’ Training College – this shaped his future career (wanting to be a ‘Hugh Vivian” – a Training and Development Manager).  This time led to one of those like-changing “Aha!” moments:

“…where I learned that I love training and development and seeing people grow.”

His last Naval post was as a Squadron Executive Officer – for the Fishery Protection Squadron – serving a fleet of 36 ships, with 1500 men and women.  This was Chris’ first exposure to the EU and to the world of commercial competitive tendering.  This time also opened the opportunity to train professionally in HR, with a clear vision of the next stage of his career… and I’d suggest, his vocation.

Love strikes!

Chris met and eventually married Moira – a Producer and Director at the BBC and then at ITV.  Moira brought to our television screens both  ‘Breakfast’ and then ‘This Morning’.

I say ‘eventually married’ because it nearly didn’t happen!  Moira loves shopping, so the plan was to get married in Bahrain.  Chris was working in Saudi and forgot he needed an entry and exit visa.  Moira was slightly unimpressed when told the marriage was (temporarily) off.  All turned out well, though, and the happy couple were eventually hitched.

An illustrious career included being involved with the development of the first e-learning packages in the UK.  If you’re a fan of Investors in People, Chris has also successfully implemented IIP for a Northwest cleaning company.

Being Head-Hunted

Imagine being head-hunted to become the first Head of Training for the RNLI.  Given Moira’s love of shopping, the remuneration at the RNLI wasn’t quite enough, so a side-project of an HR consultancy was called of.  This led to stacks of money, but no time to spend it.  Moira, though, kindly covered that aspect for Chris.

Best thing Chris ever did in his life was to set up Expert HR Solutions.  Now it’s no money, no time to enjoy it!  Moira became a co-director and they decided they wanted a different image from the average HR Consultancy.  Being different meant expanding the team to include the two labradors: Megan and Ben.

They made Megan – Chief Receptionist – a chocolate labrador whose skills included greeting anyone who came to the door, grabbing a corner of their clothing and escorting them to where Moira and Chris were working.

Ben – is the benefits manager, cutting a dashing form with his Expert HR Solutions bandana!

We genuinely like human beings and animals

HR is sometimes teased as standing for “Human Remains” – so Chris reminded us that, whilst he genuinely likes humans and animals, he still knows how to kill quickly, quietly, even silently – developed as part of his Naval training.

“If you’ve got really bad employees, I can still deal with that side of it for you!”

Mum continues to inspire from beyond the grave… the point which brought Chris’ presentation, “From the Cradle to the Grave,” to an emotive conclusion.

If you haven’t yet had a one-to-one with Chris or Ian, or indeed members on a regular basis, may I encourage this great marketing and time-management practice?

Seeing Is Believing

It was my privilege to represent The Boardroom Education with a presentation on “Seeing Is Believing” – the role that LinkedIn, Facebook Watch Parties, Instagram TV, and YouTube can play in saving us time.

“I love the absolute truth – absolutely, but when it comes to perception, the ‘truth’ is that ‘seeing is believing’.”

Fourteen Touchpoints

Over the last two months, we’ve learned that the new consensus is that it takes not seven but fourteen touch-points to encourage a potential customer to commit.  That’s a huge commitment of time.

“Can you really afford fourteen meetings to get new business?”

Since ‘seeing is believing’ – online video can save us time by giving new customers a chance to do their due diligence on us in advance of any ‘live’ face-to-face meeting.  It’s about checking out the chemistry – we all know that – which is why your video presence benefits from showcasing your character, your personality, your story.  The more ‘domestic’ I’ve been in my vlogs, the more engagement I am getting.  Practically, this means sharing aspects of your day, and your working environment.  Think of Chris and Moira’s Receptionist and Benefits Manager!

Your Team are your Cast.  Make them famous.  Mitsie the cat is likely to become more of a feature in what the professionals call the B-Roll.  This is the footage you record in addition to the main content to place your story in its context.  Who would be the main characters in your story?

If you’d like to watch an example of a more informal vlog, here’s yesterday’s summary of the above points:

Lex on “Seeing Is Believing.”

The Offer You Could Refuse… but why would you?

As Chris loves HR, I love video.  If you want to get to grips with saving a fortune on getting the right equipment and workflow to start producing video on a regular basis (and therefore start saving time and getting more customers), I will gladly share my insights for free.  That’s what members do for one another.

When it comes to shooting video for you, or editing… of course there are costs!  As I wouldn’t ask Chris Muirhead to do my printing for free, Stephen Sellers to do my accounts for gratis, or Richard Mackay to produce promotional material for me at zero cost, so I hope you realise that when I get behind the camera or the editing screen, that’s how I pay the bills.  However, I am reassuringly inexpensive and utterly committed to an effective output in the shortest possible time-frame.  Let’s get this show on the road!

Oh, and if you’re still thinking, “Lex, I am never going to go on camera,” let me assure you that with the Whiteboard animation and other visual enhancements we can add, you don’t have to go in front of the camera!  It’s better if you do, but you don’t have to!  I will need your voice though, and that’ll include the subject of podcasting that I’ll be sharing more on.

I issued this challenge:

“When is the best time to plant a tree?”

The received wisdom on this one is, “Twenty years ago!”  So I encouraged us in the face of this impossibility with the next best question:

“When is the second best time to plant a tree?”

The answer to that one is: today!

You are a genius.  Your life is interesting.  People want to get to know you more personally.  Video can help, and so can The Video Guy from The Boardroom Education.  Let’s get going… today!

Coffee and inspiration await!

In Conclusion…

I’ve got to say it, “That was one of my favourite events ever.”  TBN continues to get more energising and exciting for me the more energy and excitement I put into getting to know our members.  Let’s be moving continuously towards becoming even more of a community and even a ‘tribe’ – a tribe that is always open and welcoming to new members, new opportunities, and new ideas.

Jay’s gesture says it well:

“Welcome!  Where we go from here is up to you…”