Solstice and the Spider

I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say I find the buzz in our meetings energising – getting the day off to a great start.  Of course, our Ambassadors – Thursday’s pictured above – keep that energy flowing.  Sometimes the energy is elevated to what can be described as ‘excitement’ – especially when a visitor brings an unexpected experience to the event!

We had an unregistered visitor at Thursday’s Solstice Breakfast meeting – didn’t even check-in or wear a lanyard!  The rather sizeable spider caused quite a stir – and, I’d have to say, it wasn’t warmly welcomed by all attendees!  (TBN isn’t for everyone!)  What we did see was an energetic reaction – a dramatic shift in energy, in fact!  Happily, between two of our presenters – Pam Bates and Lee Thomas – the story was brought to a satisfying conclusion, the spider being invited to build its web of connections…elsewhere.

Networking is a web of connections, isn’t it?  This message was well illustrated by our four presentations: Marc Smith of GHS Group, Lee Thomas from the newly named Pangea Life, Pam Bates from Silk Bow Events – but speaking personally today, and myself from The Boardroom Education.  We connected with our ‘why’, our ‘story’, our need for adventure, and our energy to make an impression.

The Power of Why

Marc Smith from the GHS Group – a group of company that fixes things – hence the ‘Solved FM’ phrase that we also know Marc for, presented first on the power of why and the structure of his companies.  What I didn’t know was Marc’s competitive background in Windsurfing and Sailing. We also learned about Marc’s family – giving us his ‘why’ Marc is in business – to provide for them.

GHS stands for Great Honest Service – the drivers of Marc’s service delivery.  Using the GHS Group as a ring-fencing strategy, the group looks after Marc and the family.  It may be worth talking to Marc about this business strategy as it is an important way to protect your future – a theme picked up later by Lee Thomas.

Marc went on to explain the way he has divided up his companies.

GHS is the domestic company that fixes boilers, electrics, all the domestic challenges that need addressing from time to time.

Solved FM is Marc’s brand identity at The Boardroom Network, a business-to-business commercial solution that covers from Weymouth to Swindon to Gatwick to Brighton!

Upgrade My Boiler is an additional brand that adds the Great Honest Service ethic to a market exploited by exaggerated promises and pricing that isn’t always in the customer’s interest. Competitors offering a boiler for life for £10 per month look good.  The truth, says Marc, is that you’ll end up paying for the boiler twice over, and without guarantees.  For those who need to buy a boiler on finance, Marc’s offer is to fit, guarantee, and repair that boiler throughout the period of the finance – with no added or hidden costs.  Marc’s confidence in this product and service flows from the fact that he knows they install the boilers properly in the first place.

Finally, Marc shared something he is rightfully proud of – The GHS Trust.  The idea was driven by Marc’s own engineers.  They meet people who are distressed in life – perhaps in the middle of Winter, with no heat, and no funds to fix the problem.  For a limited number of people, the engineers donate their time, and the GHS Trust donates the cost of the materials – a great example of giving something back.

Whilst the business looks, as Marc says, “Big and shiny,” he continued, “We’re still a small, family business; we just divided stuff up to make it work.”

I’ve always been a fan of Marc’s ethics and values… but now I’m a raving fan!

Say ‘Yes!’ to Adventure!

Fans of Pam (yes, I’m one of those too), were then engaged by Pam’s emotive call to choose adventure whenever we can.  The triumphant and tragic story of her family’s adventure in Italy brought home the key message: “Say ‘Yes!’ to a lot of things.”

In 2001, Pam’s husband, Dave, decided they were going to buy a small holiday home in Italy.  In spite of their jobs and existing mortgages, they found, instead, a huge house – 500 square metres over three floors – an old farmhouse, abandoned for 30 years.  This was up for sale for just £42,000… an opportunity to be seized!

The farmhouse needed extensive development – challenge number one.  Challenge number two was the language barrier.  They had chosen an area of Italy where few people spoke English. Fortunately, Georgina, their daughter, 17 at the time, spoke fluent Italian within a few weeks, and is also a beautiful woman – a relevant part of the unfolding story!  Georgina’s beauty seemed to motivate the builders to turn up on time and give the work at least part of their attention!  Even the local police took a strong liking to Georgina, popping in for tea on a regular basis!

Living outside a Medieval village, complete with the original walls, Pam’s proudest moment was being asked to dress up and be in one of the pageants.  Thinking she would play a minor role, Pam felt so accepted and welcome when she was asked to appear as a princess of the city.

“Everyone should have an adventure of some sort because none of us know how long we’re here for.”

A nine-year adventure of commercial success was brought to a close by Dave sadly losing the battle with cancer. After taxes and bills being paid, Pam was left with £2000.  Pam used this to buy an Audi TT – which she thanked Dave for.  There were hardships, of course, but Pam doesn’t regret any of it because she still has friends she keeps in contact with from all over the world.

The message is unambiguous: have an adventure.

Expect the Unexpected!

Expecting the unexpected, or a least mitigating against the worst impacts of the unexpected, was the theme of Lee Thomas’ presentation.  Portmore Life has rebranded as Pangea Life – giving the company even more of a personal touch with four team members as a new independent venture.

Linking skilfully to Marc and Pam’s earlier presentations, Lee echoed Marc’s focus on the importance of the family and Pam’s encouragement to choose adventure when opportunity knocks.

Lee stated that, “We all have stories, and I’m here to help you with the bit of the story you’ve not yet written…” Whilst we’d all like a nice long story with a happy ending, it doesn’t always happen like that – as Pam shared.

Lee’s point was that we come to meetings like ours because we need to make money to look after our commitments – our family, our business, our colleagues.  This is part of the ‘why’ of our story.

Continuing the story metaphor, Lee shared that the chapters can get pretty bad for some of us… at which point the story was interrupted by the spider and Pam’s rescue of the unregistered arachnid!  The comments flowed fast, were funny, and even a bit risqué!

The two things that would stop Lee going to work would be being too ill to get out of bed, or waking up dead!  Humorously delivered, the point was well made: if you get ill and haven’t got money, a whole world of other problems begins to unfold – like a domino effect. Lee is here to help you protect your story from those worst-case scenarios.

Energise to Impress!

Closing the presentations, I shared the importance of coming to our meetings – even Breakfast ones, with our energy topped up and ready to go.  Why? Because I believe getting to know, like, and trust one another is as much about the ‘energy’ we share as it is about our products or services.  People ‘buy’ people – and we benefit from making an energetic impression.

The Boardroom Education is part of the ESC strategy of The Boardroom Network: Education, Support, and Connection.  Our Breakfast meetings offer great connection and support, with the support surrounding each event through the daily work of Jacqui Frampton at HQ.  What we’d like to do is increase the quantity of education available to those who connect with us.

Playing on the TBE acronym, I suggested it could also stand for “The Boardroom Energy.”  This thought was encouraged by overhearing how some of our members and visitors had found the foggy journey stressful.  This strongly contrasted with my own experience of absolute delight at driving through the foggy countryside – one of my favourite things to do!  This goes to show that we all get energised by different stimuli.

Energy needs to be dialled up or down according to the people we connect with.  Like a shower, it can easily end up being too hot or too cold. My good friend, Justin, is happy to acknowledge that he doesn’t do mornings – the very time I am at my most energetic.  Out of respect, I dial down my energy until he lets me know it’s OK to turn it up!

It’s impossible to turn up energy that isn’t there, so I shared how we can get charged up ‘on purpose’. To do this, we can build in a morning ritual that energises us.  For me, it was listening to some favourite music on the way to The Stones.  I’d had an excellent shower, and drunk my favourite coffee made just the way I like it.  All this meant that I arrived fully-charged, ready for connection.

Our first impression is an energetic impression.  My plea was that the next breakfast meeting we come to – to come ‘deliberately charged’. How?  By choosing the music (if that works for you), the clothes, the shoes… deliberate choices that boost our energy ready for release!

Our Thanks…

Our thanks go to Sam Dyer for being “Jay for a Day” and Heather Enticott and Dawn Palmer, who took to the registration desk with all the appropriate energy needed to make visitors and members equally welcome.  All our ambassadors – Aaron Whiffin, Ian Skinner, Eliot Jones, Jamie Forster, Alasdair Mackay, and Frank Skinner – were appreciated for their professional chairing, warmth and enthusiasm.  Justin Wharmby has once again captured the atmosphere in his excellent pictures.  And, of course, we all send our wishes for a rapid return of Jacqui and Jay to the network they are an essential part of.  You were missed.


The Boardroom Education