The Power of Connections

Ealing Half Marathon 2015 GL connectsAt the end of September 2015 along with 6999 other people, I ran 13.1 miles in the Ealing Half-marathon. The run starts in a leafy park in the borough of Ealing and winds its way along main roads, side roads, a number of parks, up hills, down hills and through suburban shopping areas.

So what? There are half-marathons run across the UK, indeed the world, and every day! What’s exciting about the Ealing Half-marathon is that it is in its third year, and has already been publically recognised by being awarded the Number One Half Marathon in the UK (The Running Awards) for two years running (excuse the pun!), and Number One for Atmosphere 2013 (Runner’s World).

As I have run in two out of the three of these events, I feel qualified to say a few words about what awards like this mean in practice, and why there are important lessons to be learned from this for you and your business.

Ealing Half-marathon:

  1. It is really easy to enter the event and there are encouraging words from the organisers to make everybody feel at ease and confident about entering.
  2. There are regular communications sent to entrants, to make sure that they know what is going on leading up to and during the run, – including how to get to a standard of fitness to enable everybody to complete the course.
  3. There is a party-like atmosphere at the start of the event with plenty of support, advice and activities for all entrants to join in and prepare for the forthcoming 13.1 miles.
  4. Along the route, the organisers have managed to enthuse an astounding level of support from the massive number of Ealing residents and businesses, all willing the 7000 runners to successfully complete the run.
  5. Many, many volunteers guide, provide water, support and cheering for every single one of the 7000 runners around the course.
  6. There is support right up to and until the last runner comes through at each stage of the run encouraging and motivating.

So, what can be learnt from these points and how does it connect to your business and your customers internally and externally?

Answer these questions honestly for your business to find out:

  • How easy is it to do business with your organisation? Can your customers easily reach the person they need to in the most efficient way for them? Are all your processes and procedures designed around your customer and how often are they reviewed to ensure they are current and up to date?
  • How and how often are you communicating with both your internal and external customers to make sure that they feel valued and included? Or are you always waiting for them to come to you?
    Are you there in a similar way for all your customers “from the first through to the last runner”?
  • How are you ensuring that your existing customers create goodwill for you with new potential customers?
  • How are you “training” your team so that they are capable of achieving success in their roles and are you setting realistic goals to help (and stretch) them, including reviewing progress regularly to ensure they are on track and feeling good?
  • How are you creating an environment (culture) that encourages your team to do their best work and how are you supporting them to be successful for themselves, their team and the organisation? How are the team encouraged to support each other?
  • How often and how are you celebrating success and what does that look like in your organisation?

Contact us today for a telephone, virtual or face-to-face conversation

Narendra Modi, Lessons in leadership

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Becoming a Calmer Person

Top ten tips…

  1. Accept that things will not always go according to plan. Whenever you try anything it is inevitable that obstacles will get in your way. It’s how you deal with them that counts. Instead of referring to them as ‘problems’ think of them as challenges
  2. When in a stressful situation, breath slowly and deeply. You will be amazed at how calming this is
  3. If possible, leave the stressful situation for a while and allow your mind to calm. It will be far easier to find a solution after a time out. If you are talking about a subject that is stressing you out, change the subject for a while
  4. Exercise Regularly. Exercise can help burn off excess energy and frustration, generally leaving you far calmer
  5. Eat a healthy balanced diet. Many studies show children’s behaviour significantly improves when they are eating a healthy balanced diet. The same is true for adults
  6. Try meditation and self-hypnosis. Disciplines such as these can significantly help calm the mind. They also get our minds used to being calm, helping in both the short and long term
  7. Consider yourself a calm person. Often what we tell ourselves is what we become. Why not tell yourself you are a calm person? People really admire this quality, and it is something to be proud of
  8. Remember, most worries are almost never as bad as we first think. Don’t jump the gun and waste your energy stressing over nothing
  9. Can you control it? No point spending a lot of energy over something that you cannot control. Use that energy to develop a plan on how you will handle the situation
  10. Remember, a calm mind can resolve almost any situation, whereas a stressed mind often makes things worse. Take the easy route and remain calm

Ealing Business Forum at Bang & Olufsen

The latest Ealing Business Forum took place at the Bang & Olufsen in Bond Street Ealing. It was a lively event hosted by Stuart and Helen, proprietors of the award winning store. The topic for the evening was sales with a highly interactive discussion facilitated by Geoff and Gita Langston of Arizion.com

The key learning points from the discussions were:

Do your homework

  • Understand your customer
  • Read up on them and ask people about them
  • Know your product well
  • Understand the competition without defending limitations of yours
  • Relate cost to an everyday product e.g. it is as much as a cup of coffee etc.

Key differentiators

  • Use open ended questions
  • Remember that people buy people
  • Active listening is critical and needs practice
  • Watch for the main buying signals
  • Word of mouth is a great sales generator
  • Show confidence
  • Why should people believe in you if you don’t seem to believe in you?
  • Under promise and over deliver
  • Use a win-win, no deal approach
  • Listen to your customer feedback

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Go on – Make an Exhibition of Yourself!

Prepare your team to get the most value out of your boat show exhibit investment.

Many organisations and individuals invest large amounts of money on stands and resources at exhibitions. If you are one of these organisations or individuals, are you really getting value for money, or are throwing money down the drain?

Every year, I visit many exhibitions to see what is new in the leisure marine market place as well as to meet new and existing clients.

Some of the exhibitions I visit include the London Boat Show, Southampton Boat Show, The Dinghy Show, Seaworks and METS (the world’s largest trade show of the international marine leisure industry), which includes the Superyacht Pavilion.

It regularly amazes me to see the lack of engagement with exhibition visitors, by the team members manning the stands. If I were investing what are often very large sums of money in being represented at an exhibition, I would want an excellent return on my investment.

When you add up the costs of renting the space, fitting out the stand, branding it, the electricity and the staffing etc., the costs can be significant.

The answer to this issue in my opinion is very simple. READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT MARINE MARKETING.

A Sustainable Approach to Growing your Business

Customer Experience 2.0

How to get maximum value from your customer relationships by thinking about how you can develop long-term relationships with them and considering their life time value.

Fact – it costs five times more to attract a new customer than to retain an existing customer. (eMarketer 2002)

Fact – a 5% increase in customer retention yields profit increases of 25% taking it up to 95% (Bain and Company 1990)

It therefore, seems common sense to look after the customers we already have, really get to know them and develop a personal long-lasting relationship with them.

Life Time Value of Customers

Building on this approach of developing long-term and understanding relationships with our customers, we can now start to think about them in terms of what is known as their Life Time Value (LTV) rather than a “one-off”…

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT MARINE MARKETING

Impossible is Nothing

Let me tell you a story

On 6th May 1954, British athlete, Roger Bannister ran the world’s first recorded sub-four minute mile (3 minutes 59.4 seconds). Up until then, athletes thought it was impossible to run a mile in less than four minutes.

It was an amazing, landmark run. What is interesting is that the record only lasted for 46 days and that same year, more than 16 more runners recorded a sub-four minute mile. Why was this, when up until Roger Bannister ran his sub-four minute mile, nobody had managed it?

It was because people then knew it was possible, and therefore believed that they could also achieve the sub-four minute mile.

The reality is that we are all capable of achieving amazing results if we have the self-belief to “go for it”. One of the most common reasons we fail to achieve is fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of looking a fool, and so the list goes on. Fear can and does inhibit action.

If you look at a list of some of the most successful people in business, many have had a long hard slog with hundreds of attempts at getting their service or product perfected and then getting rejected, very often hundreds of times. They then either find an organisation that believes in them, or like James Dyson and Colonel Sanders (of KFC fame), they set up their own business. All the major vacuum cleaner manufacturers rejected Dyson before he set up his own business and went on to international success and he still continues to grow.

If you have a business or a business idea that you truly believe in, one of the key ingredients for success is self-belief and confidence, both of which you can learn and develop with support from an expert and this then leading to taking action.

Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream.

Lao Tzu

Ealing Business Forum at Chat and Meet

A huge thank you to everybody who attended Ealing Business Forum this month. Also a huge thank you to Richard Palfreeman, CEO of award winning estate agents Northfields, who shared many excellent tips about how to market our businesses effectively. Bellow, I have added the top ten marketing tips that particularly resonated with me.

Here are some comments about the evening from attendees:

“A great event. And a very friendly vibe”
“A useful talk and great people”
“The marketing tips were really good ou acheter cialis pas cher. So was the hot chocolate!”
“Thanks @ContactusEaling for recommending Ealing Business Forum, it’s left me feeling warm n fuzzy. Or is that the organic espresso?”Last night was very enjoyable and informative”

The next event will be held on 3rd June 2014 at 6.30pm, venue and topic details TBC.

Northfields’ Top Marketing Tips

  1. Talk and listen to your customers regularly. Find out what they like or do not like about your business.
  2. Involve your customers in your marketing activities, using their thoughts, ideas and experiences.
  3. Re-brand every four years to keep your image fresh and up to date.
  4. Ensure that your website is mobile compatible so that it can be viewed and navigated easily on mobile devices and tablets.
  5. Make sure that your contact telephone number is clear and visible on every page of your website.
  6. Develop a structured approach to using social media. When using social media, use a ratio of 4:1 for “giving”:promotional messages.
  7. Use videos to improve website search engine rankings, keeping them to around 45 seconds to maintain viewer interest.
  8. When using e-mail marketing avoid using “Dear” in the introduction and ensure that there is a great subject line otherwise it is most likely to end up in spam mail.
  9. The best marketing tool you have are your team.
  10. Get involved in local community activities and actively participate.

Ealing-Business-Forum-at-Chat-and-Meet-Geoff-LangstonEaling-Business-Forum-at-Chat-and-Meet-Geoff-Langston

Ealing-Business-Forum-at-Chat-and-MeetEaling-Business-Forum-at-Chat-and-Meet

The Grass isn’t Always Greener

Nor the hay tastier, so don’t do a Herbie!

It seems to me that people are always striving for the next best thing in their lives, believing it will be better, and dissatisfied with what they already have, if indeed they even know what that is.

In many respects, wanting to learn new skills and different ways of approaching life is a great way to be, it shows enthusiasm and provides “stretch” in our personal and business lives.

We are constantly bombarded with messages, very often in the media, about what is possible if you just apply for that job, earn this much money, buy that, join this, travel here, change that, wear this, smell like someone famous . . . the list goes on and on.

The reality is that sometimes we forget what we already have, – until it is too late. It is very often true that having a go at something new and different can be exciting and exhilarating – at first. I would suggest that it is beneficial to invest some time in looking at what you have right now, before you dive headlong into something new (and seemingly exciting).

Think about what you have in your life with regards to your health, fitness, relationships (including family, friends and work colleagues), hobbies, job satisfaction, learning new things and the career prospects in your current job. Again, the list can go on and on about appreciating what you already have in your life.

Once you have really explored all the great things that are already present in your life, you will be in a much stronger position to think about how you can enhance this in a positive way with small steps and changes.

What got me thinking about this was watching Herbie in the picture above, as he strained to reach some straw on the other side of a barbed wire fence. He was doing this at the risk of getting stuck and not being able to get his head back through the fence and at the risk of cutting himself on the barbed wire, or even puncturing the skin on his neck! Herbie persisted in stretching to reach some “stray” blades of straw even though there was plenty of straw on his side of the fence. It was of exactly the same quality in significantly greater abundance, and also in a safe environment where he wouldn’t risk injuring himself to get to it. Herbie was unable to appreciate what he already had easy and safe access to on his side.

Once you have explored all the possibilities and amazing things you already have in your life, if it still seems the right thing to do, to have a go at something different, then go for it with all your heart.

My suggestion is do the right thing for you at the right time, and do it authentically appreciating what you already have and don’t do a Herbie!

Ealing Business Forum Visits Waitrose

Message from Geoff Langston

Thank you very much to everybody who was able to join us at Waitrose this evening. It was a pleasure to see so many new and also familiar faces in the room and also to hear conversations continuing to take place as we left, and outside the venue! I am sure that you will join me in thanking Paul, Sarah and the team at Waitrose for being excellent hosts. Thank you also to Raj from Metro Bank who gave us more insights into the UK’s newest High Street Bank.

It was great to hear that business has already been done between attendees of EBF and I anticipate that this will grow as we get to know more about each other and our business relationships develop.

The next EBF event will be held on Tuesday 6th May 2014 at 6.30pm (venue tbc), and we welcome businesses from W3, W5, W7, W13 and beyond.

Membership and attendance at EBF will always be free of charge. EBF objectives are to:

  • Support the economic well-being and growth of Ealing businesses and residents
  • Provide a forum for the business community to meet each other and share experiences
  • Enable the Ealing business community share their knowledge

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Images courtesy of Carlene Bender of Contactus Ealing.