National Treasure or Hidden Treasure?

Which one best describes you and your business?

At the National Achiever’s Congress in London at the beginning of this month, I got to see two national treasures who are great entrepreneurs and brilliant ambassadors for Brand UK – Lord Alan Sugar and Sir Richard Branson. Two very different men, two very different styles, both with a great story, and both magnificent mavericks, and delightfully authentic.

Lord Sugar
The delicious Lord came in to a standing ovation and began in his usual blunt, shoot straight from the hip style, which I have to say I find hugely endearing – no bulls*it is such a delight! Especially as the conference had an awful lot of it floating about! The objective of business is PROFIT said Lord Sugar. Absolutely right too. But he said, too many businesses get lost in TURNOVER, forgetting that profit is where it’s at. They get defocused on how to get the money in this week to pay the overheads, and too often business leaders take their eye off the ball. The focus of any business has to be on MAKING MONEY. Sir Alan said there are too many people looking for get-rich-quick, when most businesses are actually build on fair trading and hard work, as his has been. He says he didn’t gamble on the stock exchange, he didn’t mess about with currencies, he simply bought and sold stuff and made a profit as he did. He says too many young people are growing up in a Mickey Mouse financial environment.

I loved him more by the second! The Victor Meldrew of the entrepreneurial world! But wonderful with it! Really enjoyed his realism, and still so passionate about business, retaining great vision, and a great gut instinct. Mostly! He’s had his moments he said! He was rejected by IBM on an aptitude test to be a computer programmer! He got his own back in brilliant style – he took a ton of business from IBM, dwarfing their ccomputer sales and share of the UK market, and he now owns IBM’s London HQ! Success is always the best revenge!

Business Wisdom On a Sunday Morning From The GREAT Lord Sugar

  • Get real!
  • The objective of business is to make a profit.
  • The business you should go into is one you have knowledge, experience and have a passion for.
  • Focus on how to bring in the money.
  • Get the want to make a lot of money.
  • Spot opportunities.
  • Play your winners.
  • Not everyone can be a rocket scientist, trades are important.
  • If you’re not prepared to take a risk, why would the banks, why would anyone else?
  • Long-term success is brought about by fair-trading and hard work.
  • Don’t dump ideas too early, have some patience. (Lord Sugar was working with Texas Instruments on the Palm Pilot – the Blackberry of it’s day with a touch screen, hand-writing recognition etc, even in those days. But it didn’t sell 100,000 a month as other products he had did, so he dumped it. Not his best decision he admitted.)
  • Learn as much or more from your failures as your successes.
  • Stir it up on Twitter!
  • Monitor what’s going on in your business.
  • Get in a position where no matter how big your business is, you can sort everything from a PC and a Blackberry.
  • Don’t give a sh*t what other people think.
  • Having said that treat your employees well – Lord Sugar has 100+ core employees who have worked for him for between 25 – 40 years and he’s proud of that. He calls them his ‘second family’.
  • Love doing a good deal.
  • Love watching things grow.
  • Love selling things.
  • Love encouraging people to progress.
  • When you don’t enjoy something stop doing it.

Business Wisdom on a Monday Evening From The GLORIOUS & GORGEOUS Sir Richard Branson
My goodness was I ready for Richard! We’d been sold to all weekend by all manner of people, some good, some not so good. And many of the presenters completely over-sold and over-used the audience like conforming fodder for their ego – sit down, stand up, say aye! Say ‘ugh’ more like! Many of us would have long gone home had it not been for the canny organizers keeping back Sir Richard for the grand finale. And was he worth waiting for! Like one of the earth angels he came on all blonde, glowing, and flowing with soft wisdom. As with Lord Sugar, the audience gave him a huge standing ovation. There was an incredible atmosphere!

  • Do business like there is a tomorrow!
  • Champion people.
  • Love people. Be genuinely interested in them. Any great leader needs to like people and see the best in them.
  • Deal well with people, then they’ll deal with you again.
  • Praise people, we all benefit from that.
  • If you fall out with people invite them out at some point later.
  • What do your challenges teach you – dyslexia taught him the skills of delegation.
  • Don’t just do things to make money – ask ‘How can I make a real difference to people’s lives?’
  • Notice where other people are doing things badly. Look at how you can improve it.
  • Care about others.
  • Create things you can be proud of.
  • Get good people around you.
  • It is possible to start a business without money.
  • Think about what is the worst that can happen.
  • When you fall flat on your face get up again.When Virgin faced potential disaster he had to sit down with his staff and had to make redundancies. He promised to take them back when he could. He took them all back on within 12 months.
  • Survival matters. Fight to survive.
  • A rule he learned – don’t treat banks like a doctor, be ready to move!
  • Virgin is a way of life brand. Know the value of publicity. Be dramatic. Have fun, style, panache. Be willing to make a fool of yourself, make people smile.
  • Try things. Experiment. You’ll learn many things. He and his team are learning so much from their work in Virgin Galactic. He’s never had an office, never worked in one. He does however get out and about and experience things. Find out what’s going on. Experience your own services, your own staff. That’s the way you change a company from average to exceptional. Go out with staff, go to the bar with them, write things down, be a great listener. A good leader will promote well above what people will expect. With trust they will excel.
  • Go for quality in your business – be the best in your field.
  • With wealth goes great responsibility. Create new jobs, Invest in new ventures.
  • Use entrepreneurial skills to tackle problems.

Sir Richard now spends 70% of his time on non-profits to improve the world. Virgin Unite – a force for good.

Learnings from the Lord and the Sir
Some interesting differences of approach and philosophy there, that really got me thinking. Both are wise men, both hugely successful. Both are known for different things, different approaches. For me, it showed that a business reflects who we are, our personalities, our values. Both have a ‘make it happen’ approach that I adore. Both have diverse portfolio businesses – Lord Sugar has Viglan which services education and government offices, he has Amscreen in petrol stations, property interests and charter flights. He’s passionate about them all. Branson passionate about all the diverse Virgin brands, and they are diverse, from planes and trains, cola and finance, galactic flights and Virgin Unite, the one that truly moved me.

One Thing Neither of Them Did …
Beforehand I had wondered how each of them would do presenting to such a large audience – some 8,000 people. Both somewhat introverted, I wondered with envy who had coached them as I guessed they hadn’t presented live to such a large number of people before. I’d have LOVED to have helped them authentically present themselves and their philosophies and personalities and experience and skill with ease and confidence and charisma. How good a gig would that be! However neither of them presented, preferring instead the comfort of being ‘interviewed’ by one of my favourite news presenters/reporters, the much respected and liked Michael Buerke.
Ask and it is given – so here goes, gotta be done! Hey dear TimeLords, would LOVE to do some of my Jedi work with you to get you beyond the stuff that gets in the way of you presenting – lovely as Michael Buerke is, NEVER go through a third party to shine in front of any audience again. Many of us were only there to see you two! And it was on the strength of your names that those tickets were sold. Think on!

And finally …
Although I stood and cheered with huge affection and respect for both Lord Sugar and Richard Branson, it was Richard Branson’s work with Virgin Unite that moved my heart and soul – hugely inspirational. Still adore the Sugar though! The legacy Richard Branson will leave behind in hearts and minds is however enormous. What a gifted and good-hearted man – a lightworker, earth angel and a world change agent. Yes, businesses exist to make a profit. But if that’s all they do then in some ways they have failed to galvanise their market, failed to galvanise their potential and their influence, and failed to grasp the bigger picture. A business can be wildly successful and yet leave a more massive legacy where the dreamer continues to dream and ignite hope and dreams and aspiration in others.
Richard Branson for Prime Minister, Lord Sugar for Chancellor! Change the world!
“A spiritual sensibility encourages us to see ourselves
as part of the fundamental unity of all being.
If the thrust of the market ethos
has been to foster a competitive individualism,
a major thrust of many traditional religious and spiritual sensibilities
has been to help us see our connection with all other human beings.”
Michael Lerner

A Question For You
So what’s your business about? What is your vision? Your legacy? How does your business express who you are? What’s your approach? What’s your big dream and are you making it happen in 2011. Is it time to play a bigger game and step into a whole new level of greatness? Change your world as you change the world. AND you don’t have to be as rich as Richard to make a difference, that’s for sure! So keep on keepin’ on being the change you wish to see.
Hope I’ve got you thinking! Until next time, here’s to your inspired success and a Big Yeeehaaaa month!

International Success Psychologist Kath Temple loves to influence influencers. Her Strategies for Greatness and mentoring programmes aligns her with entrepreneurs, leaders and thought leaders. If you’re looking for more influence, more impact, & more income, contact Kath on 01502 562162 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 01502 562162 end_of_the_skype_highlighting or email: kath@lifelonglearningcompany.com

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