Like you, we have quite a few areas of interest, so we post everything under one or more of these main labels: Personal Development, Business Development (startup and marketing), Intelligence (emotional, spiritual, etc.), News, Fun, Newsletter (chat about things we've emailed). Enjoy, and keep in touch!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Seeing Eye to Eye or Seeing Red

Do you know how other people see you, and what effect this has on your relationships? Have you ever found that you just can’t see eye to eye with a colleague, or been at a meeting where one person seems always determined to contradict what you say?

I shall be giving this half-hour talk at some NRG networking lunches in 2012. If you are interested in coming along, dates are below. If you'd like to find out more about the talk, see the details here. I'm interested in giving the talk on other occasions - anything from half an hour to half a day - so feel free to get in touch.

Melissa Neil, Bristol Central group leader, commented that this "talk was the best one we have had."

Dates in 2012:
Tuesday 24th January, Cheltenham & Gloucester

Tuesday 7th February, Swindon
Thursday 9th February, Bath
Thursday 15th March 16th February, Bristol
Thursday 3rd May (to be confirmed) 5th April, North Somerset

To find out more about the talk click here. To book in to these events, go to the NRG web site. If you have any queries or would like to set up another event, please contact me.

I look forward to seeing you at one of these events.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Follow your passion

Thanks to Brett Sadler for this blog article which shows that you are MUCH more likely to prosper in business if you follow your passion than if you just try to work out how you might create the most financially successful business. Take a look!

Friday, 2 December 2011

Avoid the Chancellor's depression!

It's easy to become depressed, listening to the Chancellor's grim projections this week. Yet as I meet people who run businesses I find that lots of them are continuing to flourish, even in sectors like construction.

When the economy is going well, people whose businesses are doing well don't say, "Oh, it's just the economy, nothing to do with me!" Usually they say it's down to their effective leadership. So, if it's our resourcefulness which brings success in the good times, then that same resourcefulness can bring success at other times - even when we seem to be bouncing along at the bottom of the recession. If you like jargon, this is about having an attitude of being "at cause." If we don't blame good times for our success, then we can't blame "bad times" for lack of success.

So, for business leaders and others seeking to keep the pounds rolling in, here are seven steps to avoid the Chancellor's depression.

1. Focus on the things you can influence, not on those you can't control.

2. See where you want to get to, not what you want to escape from.

3. Take time to work out the small "stepping stones" you need to take to get there, and the resources you need.

4. Review your marketing strategy: seek to serve market sectors that are themselves growing.

5. Don't be a martyr: identify the areas where you need help and seek out friends and professional advisers who can provide it.

6. Value your achievements.

7. Spend time with people who have a similar attitude and approach.

I hope this brings you some help and encouragement!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Richard on Swindon radio again

I'll be on Swindon Radio again tonight from 6-7 p.m. talking to Gerry and Peter about business growth & coaching, with the Swindon Coaching Team. Listen online or phone in!


Saturday, 19 November 2011

City of London doesn't know its motto!

Recently I wrote about the importance of trust in business, and quoted the motto of the London Stock Exchange "My word is my bond." In a recent survey of people working in the financial services industry in London only 14% knew the motto. Scary!

You can read the report here - Vision and Values: Perceptions of Ethics in the City Today.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Building your brand and the importance of values

At the NRG networking lunch in Bristol today, Melissa Neill of PR specialist HYPR gave a great talk about developing your branding (as a person or as a business) with lively discussion about well known personalities such as Richard Branson and Margaret Thatcher.

I found it fascinating to discover that the people with the strongest brands are those whose values come through clearly, that is we know what they stand for and it is consistent. It helps too if we are able to connect with them emotionally. From a change leadership point of view I would add that it is taking a stand for something that brings about change.

Phil Cheesman, who was in the discussions at our table, commented that when business owners seek to develop a brand with values that conflict with their personal values this often becomes a major source of stress. Interesting!

The coaching I deliver to business leaders includes threads of developing Authentic Leadership, which includes integrity of values, and leading change: so I can see the benefits of this to people and organisations who want to develop a strong brand and to be effective in the world of business or politics.

For more on this and related subjects, subscribe to my monthly newsletter at http://www.findingtruenorth.info

Friday, 16 September 2011

Changes to £1000 LMAS grant

Subtle changes have taken place to the Leadership and Management Advisory Service grant since the current scheme started in April. This has come about as the teams deal with live applications. The grant is for leaders of businesses, social enterprises and charities. Do you qualify now?
Find out here: Government Grant.

Friday, 5 August 2011

England's Cricket win is no accident!

Cricket fans are on a high at the moment after the England team's outstanding win! This success is no accident: it is down to a careful strategy that many business leaders would be jealous of.

You may have noticed that bowlers like to polish the ball before they bowl, and you assumed correctly that this improves the bowling. The England team pass the ball to Alistair Cook and he, not the bowler, is the one to do the polishing. Why? This is not random, he was chosen because he has the least sweaty palms and so is the best ball polisher! This is impressive attention to detail.

The strategy underlying this they call the “incremental accretion of marginal gains.” In other words they look for a little change that will make a big difference. They keep doing that, and then look for another little change to make. Over time (some ten years or more in the case of England's cricket team) this makes a big difference.

My business name - Finding True North - flows from the knowledge that when you use a compass for navigation you find direction based on magnetic north. Similarly, the small adjustment for true north can make a big difference, particularly over long distances such as when sailing at sea.

So, what applies in sport applies in business leadership and I'd be happy to chat to people who want to find the small changes that will make a big difference to their results.

More background from Telegraph Sports.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Coaching is what you need for Just in Time Training

Just in Time Training seems to be the "in thing." This is about receiving training in short blocks just when you need it. People recognise that if they go on a training course and do not make use of what they learn immediately, they forget it.

Coaching, including that which we deliver, uses as its raw material the fresh challenges that the client faces. It helps clients to learn from their experience and to grow in the skill of learning from their experience, so coaching is great for embedding training.

It is worth remembering that coaching can also be used to develop other new skills, Just In Time, without taking any further time away from work and in a completely bespoke way. You choose what you want to learn and apply the training to your actual situation, in a way that is not constrained by the content and context of any fixed course materials.

You just need to make sure that your coach has a sufficient skill base in the relevant area, and we'd be happy to talk to you about that!

Just in Time Training: contact us to find out more about all Business Coaching from Finding True North.

Monday, 13 June 2011

New video resources

I've recorded some six minute videos to answer common questions. You can share these with people who may be looking for support in their work.
You can see all of them on Youtube too.

How to choose a coach, mentor, or business adviser

How about starting a business?

Richard on the radio tonight

With the Swindon Coaching Team I shall be a guest on Mind Your Own Business on Swindon Radio 105.5 tonight (Monday 13th June) from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
We'll be chatting about how things are changing for our clients in the current economic climate, and giving some top tips. You can listen on the Internet (click on "listen live").

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Coaching at Bible Society today

I enjoyed organising more coaching at Bible Society in Swindon today, and delivering coaching with the Swindon Coaching Team there again.

We are providing pithy half-hour coaching sessions to employees. For convenience these sessions are held during and after the lunch period and there is no cost to those taking part. The coaching helps staff to deal with work or personal matters in this way which is of benefit to them and will also increase their enjoyment and effectiveness in the workplace!

More about business coaching from the Finding True North web site.
Life Coaching in Swindon from the Swindon Coaching Team.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

BNI Three Peaks Challenge

I'm impressed by the achievement of some of the members of my BNI breakfast group in Melksham in climbing the UK's three highest peaks in 24 hours. Maybe this should be their next challenge:

London boy breaks Seven Summits record with Everest climb.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Interesting article from the Harvard Business Review

Tony Schwartz, in The Only Way to Get Important Things Done, writes interestingly of how the key to getting more things done is not to think about things more, but to increase the number of operations we can perform without thinking about them by doing them "automatically" by creating routines or rituals. Interesting!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Bible Society link-up in Swindon

Yesterday I enjoyed talking to the monthly meeting of all British Bible Society staff in Swindon. I was talking to them with the Swindon Coaching Team about the value of coaching at home and at work, in advance of free taster sessions we are offering to staff there next month.

In building relationships with local employers, we see coaching "taster sessions" as a good way of raising awareness of the benefits of coaching. People receiving a taster session may well bring personal rather than work-related issues, but whatever we talk about there will be a knock-on benefit to the employer.

We are interested in doing similar work with other businesses and charities.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Government Leadership Grant extended

Last year I was urging people to apply for this UK government scheme (to support leaders of small businesses) in good time before the intended end in April. Nevertheless some people missed out, because the scheme was so popular that it ran out of money!

Changes to government plans meant that I was not expecting the scheme to continue, despite the large number of clients that had benefitted from the £1000 grant.

The good news is that the scheme has just been relaunched, to run until March 2012 - but don't leave it until the last moment to contact me! It doesn't matter whether you have received a grant from a similar scheme in the past.

This time around, the Leadership and Management Advisory Service grant will give up to £1000 (matched funding) to the key leaders of growing firms with between 2 and 249 staff - to help with the development of people and processes in the organisation through interventions such as coaching and workshops. For example if you'd like to increase staff productivity to improve business growth, coaching could help you to develop your communication and delegation skills, review working practices, and develop staff training.

Businesses need to be able to show planned growth of 20% in staff or turnover for each of the following three years (10% for Social Enterprise). Firms less than 12 months old need to show plans for turnover of £500,000 after three years.

Full details of the scheme in the South of England are here:

To explore how best to benefit from this scheme, to talk through the growth potential of your business, or to start an application, call me now on 01249 712446!

Finding True North Executive Coaching

Friday, 6 May 2011

Finding True North Team Pursuits Day

Finding True North enjoyed joining in with the open day at south west England's premier corporate leisure venue today - Team Pursuits, Lacock, Wiltshire.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Persistence wins when all else fails...

Sometimes, when things are not going as well as we should like, we are wise to examine whether we should be doing something differently. However it may be persistence, not change, that is needed, as Calvin Coolidge noted.

"Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."
Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933) 30th President of the U.S.A.

Persist: to continue steadfastly or obstinately in spite of opposition or warning; to last, to endure.

From the Internet: Background on Coolidge and this quotation;
More impressive quotations from Coolidge - here and here.

(I find these links helpful, but take no responsibility for them.)

And to finish off, here's a related quote I also like by John Quincy Adams (1825-29) 6th President of the U.S.A.
“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.”

Life isn't all about new information. I know, in my life and in my work with business leaders, that at times what is needed is help in discerning what to persist with and what to stop doing - and encouragement to continue the journey. If you would find such support helpful, get in touch.

Comments welcome!

This is an extract from my monthly newsletter. If you'd like to receive this regularly, subscribe here.

More on executive coaching from Finding True North web site.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Royal Wedding

Loyal Greetings from Finding True North to HRH the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. We enjoyed watching the wedding on television and local festivities!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Motivating staff - medal and mission feedback

When you think back to times when people have commented on work that you have done, and as you remember those comments, how often do they encourage you and help you to see how to develop further and how often have they been discouraging? I know I've experienced moments when comments have left me feeling devalued or angry. So this article is about how we can seek to give feedback which people find encouraging and motivating.

The One Minute Manager* is a good starting point. The authors recommend (unsurprisingly) One Minute Praisings: praise people, tell them what they have done well, why that is valued, and ask them to do more of the same. Alongside this is the One Minute Reprimand: be specific about what is wrong and how you feel about that; finish by reminding them that you value them as people even though the performance was not good. Both of these should be immediate.

There may be times when a task can be seen as good or bad, and the praising or reprimand can be used helpfully, powerfully, and authentically. However often there are aspects of work to be praised as well as aspects to be reprimanded. What seems to have evolved is the "Praise Sandwich" - of praise, feedback, and praise. This seeks to leave the recipient feeling encouraged even though they have received feedback which may have been expressed largely as criticism.

The idea underlying the One Minute Praising is that of "catching people doing something right," and telling them so to encourage them, which is a healthy idea. The danger with this approach, and with the Praise Sandwich, is that the person giving the feedback takes on the attitude of judge, rather than that of a companion helping the recipient to evaluate their own performance.

In contrast, a coaching approach puts the focus on the development of the person doing the work - and helps them to recognise good work while being clear about goals. The best model I've come across, and which I'd like to share with you, is "Medal and Mission feedback." The underlying idea is that people doing work should grow in their ability to assess their own work, and that this is nurtured by describing what they have done well and how they can do even better. It's about giving people a clear mission, always giving them a medal when they have finished, then continuing with the next mission - and so on.

For example, if someone is learning to build a brick wall, the person giving feedback would not say, "It's not vertical!" Instead they would help the learner to recognise whether the wall is vertical, comment on what they have done well, and help them to see how to do even better next time.

So, here's the overview of how to give Medal and Mission feedback.
1. Give clear goals (for the mission) so success can be recognised.

2. Ask the person doing the work to give you their own assessment of it. They need to learn to perceive what is good about it, not just judge whether it is "right."

3. Add your own non-judgmental feedback to support theirs and to help them to look forwards to see how to do the task even better next time.

How do you give feedback at the end of a task?
What do you believe is the best way to help others to develop skills?
How can you impove the way you give feedback?

Your replies and comments are welcome.

This is an extract from my monthly newsletter. If you'd like to receive this regularly, subscribe here.

* The One Minute Manager, by Drs Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson,
first published 1982 and still in print.

More on how to motivate staff from Finding True North web site.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Public Sector redundancies

I listened to a senior economist from Lloyds Bank recently talking at a networking breakfast about the economic outlook for UK plc. The averages disguise a range of personal experiences from hardship to affluence. He talked about how the government hopes that the Private Sector will soak up staff made redundant in the Public Sector. He said that this will happen, however it will take three to five years. Perhaps because he is an economist, he did not emphasise that what this means is lots of people suffering unemployment for three to five years. Some of these people will find similar work. Others will value help from Finding True North and similar organisations to set a fresh direction for their working lives.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Friday, 18 March 2011

Make the most of life expectancy

According to the BBC today, life expectancy in the UK is on the rise. Maybe there are more years ahead of you in work and life than you had imagined, which makes it all the more important to be in touch with what you enjoy and what you are good at so that you spend your time on what is both fulfilling and rewarding. Are you trapped in a job that no longer 'fits'?

Get in touch to find out how we can help you find your true north.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Public Sector Redundancies

I'm aware of growing numbers of people facing redundancy at the moment due to government spending cuts and many of these are in the public sector.

Some will be able to find similar work in the private sector. Others will want to review their career plan. At Finding True North we can help people to get in touch with their strengths, transferable skills, and what they enjoy to build their confidence and help them to map out a fresh career plan.

Put us in touch with one another.


It seems to be a while since I last wrote anything. Since an enjoyable walking holiday on Exmoor at the end of February I seem to have been busy with networking, starting work with new clients, and delivering free coaching taster sessions to help people discover how coaching can benefit them.

I visited BNI Circus chapter in Bath this morning (I'm a member of BNI Ushers in Melksham) and enjoyed the networking and renewing the acquaintance of a lot of people I know. One member has already taken me up on my offer of a taster session.

This evening I'm networking at Swindon Connections with the Swindon Coaching Team.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Just visiting?

If it takes too much time to keep visiting this page, you can receive our occasional New posts in your inbox.

You can also try our Monthly newsletter with tips on business and personal development.


Impressed by Basepoint Business Centres

Every now and again I discover a firm that not only provides a good service, but is also owned by a charity which means that the profits go to especially good use.

This happened to me last week at the Swindon Business Show when - as well as enjoying manning our stand - I took a look at what the other exhibitors had to offer. Basepoint Business Centres have a network of centres around the country providing meeting accommodation and virtual office facilities to small businesses. The nearest one to Finding True North is in Swindon.

It's impressive! Take a look! http://www.basepoint.co.uk/

More about the work we do... new Case Studies

I've published a couple of case studies of work we have completed.

For Clear Vision Accountancy Group we provided one-to-one coaching to develop an accountant newly promoted as director.

For the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust we delivered training to the top three levels of managers so that they can use coaching as a way to empower their staff and change company culture.

You can download these from the Info Zone on our website, or read them below.

Finding True North - WWT Case Study

Finding True North - Clear Vision Case Study

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Coaching Prize Draw

Further to my post a few days ago, if you are coming to the Swindon Business Show tomorrow (10th February) I look forward to seeing you.

I'll be on the stand with the Swindon Coaching Team stand (nr 24), where we are offering a prize draw with a free one hour coaching session in Swindon for the winner. We can chat to you about ways to develop yourself, your staff, or your organisation to get the prosperous 2011 that you deserve!

Follow the link for more info about the exhibition and exhibitors and for a free visitor's ticket. See you there!

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Does the Internet help or hinder decision making?

I've just read a fascinating article by Tim Weber, BBC News Editor, reporting from the 2011 Economic Forum in Davos as he chats to business leaders in a sea of laptops and other mobile devices.

He reflects on how we are now "hyperconnected" with mobile devices now outnumbering both laptops and toothbrushes. Is all this information which is changing the way that we relate and shop, that is "the abundant distractions of the internet" a help or a hindrance? If the size of my inbox is anything to go by, I suspect it is a hindrance!

In this age where people's brands or reputations can be destroyed in seconds, advice to leaders is "treat your employees with respect and stick to your values" and make sure you find time to think and to reflect. This sounds like a good summary for success in the 21st Century information age. Discovering ways to be true to your individual and corporate values, and to find time to make good decisions that flow from these, sound like good topics for a conversation with your coach.

Full article here: the photo brings the message home!

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Mediation strengthens relationships

This morning I attended an enjoyable breakfast at Bath Spa University, which was a regular networking event of the Institute of Business Consultants. I now need to say I'm a member of the Institute of Consulting, as they rebranded last week!

This morning's talk was by one of our members, Ian Rowe, who specialises in mediation. We do some mediation in Finding True North too. It was great to be reminded by Ian of the power of non-violent comunication, how excellent relationships are a better business goal than avoiding conflict, and how when conflict is handled well teams and relationships are strengthened. Thanks, Ian!

Ending coaching well

Yesterday I ended a series of coaching with David Killingback, photographer, who works in the Bristol area because we had achieved what he set out to achieve. One of the privileges I have is being able to work with people who excel, and to help them do even better. His photography has always impressed me, and over the months that we've been meeting it's been great to see the development of his confidence, plans, and business results.

David has been kind enough to let me share with you some what he enjoyed from our coaching.

  1. Being questioned and having a space to think about my goals and how to achieve them.
  2. Forming ideas and plans of action about the above in conjunction with who I am as a person and what is most suitable for my personality.
  3. The "Oh yes, that's so obvious now you mention it!" moments, or having someone confirm what you may have been thinking subconsciously.
To find out more about how our coaching can help you, phone 01249 712446 or email me.

Follow David on Twitter.

Finding True North at Swindon Business Show 10th February

Put the date in your diary (10th February) and come and say hello at the Swindon Business Show. Follow the link for more info and for a free visitor's ticket.

Richard will be there with Isla on the Swindon Coaching Team stand (nr 24), and we can chat to you about ways to develop yourself, your staff, or your organisation to get the prosperous 2011 that you deserve! Isla and I are two of the founders of the Swindon Coaching Team set up to provice a wider range of coaching staff and skills to meet the needs of the growing business scene in Swindon.

See you there!

To get a flavour of what we do before the event, try the Finding True North newsletter.

New managers finish training

I delivered the last of four training sessions for new managers at the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust earlier this week. I've been delighted to see their delight in the course, and their growth in confidence and leadership skills.

The training was very interactive and included material on recognising your own and others personality and skills, building relationships, delegation, leadership and developing your own leadership style, running meetings (and more).

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

How to build your business in 2011

Here’s some questions that will help you to build your business (or career) in 2011.
  1. What is the biggest issue you expect to face in your work this year?
  2. What is the first step you need to take to deal with that?
  3. What help do you need to take that step?
Enjoy using these, and please 'comment' with your answers (or email them to me confidentially) as that will help me focus my energies well this year!

Friday, 7 January 2011

The Principles of Success - update

Here's an expanded version of last month's article.

“The Principles of Success” by Patrick W Jordan
Summary of a talk by him about this book
on 10th December 2010

1. Take responsibility
Focus on what you can control (e.g. run your fastest, not win the race), and learn from setbacks.

(Do you have a ‘fixed mindset’ (people are good at something or not), or a ‘growth mindset (people can learn anything)? The reality is between the two, however people with a growth mindset do better because they are more resilient. To foster this mindset it is better to praise people for effort at school rather than say that they are smart.)

2. Set goals
Goals need to be big, broken down into milestones, and finally the ‘little thing I can do today.’
They must be congruent, and not clash with one another, and be things we want e.g. Hedonic – bringing us pleasure, or Eudaimonic – fun but also related to a higher purpose. (“80% of people have goals that bring no pleasure, such as promotion at work they don’t enjoy!”)

To bring success, goals should be:
Ambitious (a stretch, but realistic not ridiculous)
Specific (measurable)

3. Be positive
Being optimistic about the big picture is always good. Being optimistic about small things is not always good, such as in safety critical situations. Optimism and pessimism are not seen as opposites today, it is possible to be both!

Key Concept: savouring. (“Count your blessings.”) Be aware of and enjoy what is going well: write these down in a journal at the end of each week.

4. Persevere intelligently
We need to have a plan and work hard towards that. At the same time we need to be flexible if the plan is not working and be relaxed about failure (unless it is safety critical). We need to be adventurous and try things, because when people look back on life most of their regrets are to do with missed opportunities.

Key Concept: develop strengths. Too often organisations send people on courses to overcome weaknesses. It is better to develop strengths, and do the least needed to cope with weaknesses.

5. Connect with others
We need to recognise that we get most out of life by helping others get what they want out of life.
Our network includes those we have strong ties with (such as family) and those we have weaker ties with (such as those we get to know at conferences). The latter are more important in career development because they “open more worlds for you.” Friends tend to talk about either problems or opportunities; and either internal to themselves or external. Those who will energise us most are those who naturally talk about external opportunities. Good team work is hindered by people who are overcritical or uncritically overenthusiastic.

Key Concept: the Golden Rule Do to others as you would like them to do to you. It is good to focus on other people and help them to feel good about themselves. In motivating employees, praise is often more important than money.

You can buy Patrick's book from his website. He is a psychologist, and this book is based on his research in drawing the key principles of success out of many people's writing and research on the subject. His principles don't just apply to those areas where we think of ourselves as needing to be successful, but to happiness and fulfilment in work and life in general.

Contact me to find out more, or to increase the happiness or success in your life!

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

How to set good goals

There's lots of folklore about goal-setting, and maybe we all wonder at times whether it makes any difference, so it's interesting to read some real research.

Edwin Locke discovered that:
  • The more difficult the goal, the greater the achievement.
  • The more specific or explicit the goal, the more precisely performance is regulated.
  • Goals that are both specific and difficult lead to the highest performance.
  • Commitment to goals is most critical when goals are specific and difficult. Goal commitment is the degree to which you are genuinely attached to and determined to reach the goals.
  • High commitment to goals is attained when (a) the individual is convinced that the goal is important; and (b) the individual is convinced that the goal is attainable (or that, at least, progress can be made toward it).
  • Goal setting is most effective when there is feedback showing progress in relation to the goal
See the full article by Emily vanSonnenberg here. She also writes about "Intention Journals" as a way of giving oneself feedback on one's goals.

So: don't give up on those New Year Resolutions!