Discipline makes Daring possible.

Tonight’s the night

Tonight’s the night

Tonight marks the start of Hallowtide.  The time when, in the Christian calendar and the Roman one before it, people remember the dead who came before.

For 300,000 years humans have come before us.  All dead now.

Gathering a pile of stuff we don’t need, can’t make safely or dispose of cleanly seems a poor way to celebrate their memory.

Imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome

If you ever feel like an imposter, check out Jára Cimrman.

If he could, you can.

Everything we achieve is made up in our heads first.  That’s part of what makes us human.

Human feedback 1 – referrals

Human feedback 1 – referrals

The best kind of feedback is the kind you don’t have to ask for. Clients, team member and supplier referrals. Also complaints, suggestions for improvement, dropouts, people leaving or quietly ceasing to do business with you.

It’s not enough to simply count occurences. You also need to examine the behaviour that leads to them.

Take Client referrals for instance. Referrals shortcut your Share Promise process, but not by much. You still need to Qualify them (and they you) and Demonstrate Value before you can finally Enrol them as a client.

If this doesn’t happen, you need to ask why.

If they drop out at Qualify, is it because they don’t fit the profile of the people you serve? Or because they don’t share your core values? Or because they aren’t ready for what you can do for them yet? If so, perhaps you should look at how you’re communicating what you do and who you are for to your existing clients. Give them the best words to use, rather than leaving it to chance.

If they drop out at Demonstrate Value, that can only be because they don’t see the value. Why is that? Is it because you haven’t communicated it? Or because they need something you don’t offer? If so, should you offer it? Maybe, if it’s consistent with your Promise of Value.

If they drop out at Enrol, that’s either because they aren’t motivated enough or able to move forward with you. There’s not much you can do about the motivation, other than improve how you Qualify, but if the barrier is ability, maybe you can help them remove it, by changing the delivery format, or timing, or how it’s paid for.

Understanding why something happens helps you decide what comes next – whether that’s revisiting Package Promise or honing your language.

By now of course, you’ve realised that this doesn’t just apply to client referrals. Every passage through Share Promise tells you something. Not all of it should result in changes to what you do or how you do it, but you won’t know that till you’ve looked at it.

The best kind of feedback is the kind you don’t have to ask for.

But you do have to take notice of it.

Should’ve got an Uber

Should’ve got an Uber

“It’ll be ten minutes”, said the despatcher.

30 minutes later I call the cab office: “It’s been half an hour and I’m still waiting.”

“They’re in XXX gardens, and will be with you in 5 minutes.”

“Well if they aren’t I’m walking instead.”

“I can assure you they’ll be there in 5 minutes.”

9 minutes later the driver calls: “I’m 2 minutes away.”

“Sorry, you’re too late, I’ve started walking”.

I’d have been happier if the cab firm had said it was going to be forty minutes at the start.   Then I could have made my decision to walk instead immediately.   What irked me was the breaking of a promise made.  The feeling of being lied to.   As a result the driver missed out on a fare and wasted a journey.

Should’ve got an Uber“, you say.


The way Uber solves this problem for the customer is to have a surplus of cabs available in the area.  That means drivers are systematically under-employed.   Which might mean it’s harder to earn a decent living.  I’m not sure I want promises kept to me at the expense of the people doing the work.

Which is why in the end, I prefer travelling under my own steam.

Keeping it personal

Keeping it personal

When you’re a one-man band it has to be personal.  Conventional wisdom has it that you can’t keep it that way if you plan to seriously scale.  It’s almost a definition of ‘corporate’ that ‘I’ becomes ‘they’.

I believe that this loss of the personal is part of what puts many micro-business owners off growth, not the ‘lack of ambition’ ascribed to them, by government reports.

Conventional wisdom is not wrong – as the business founders insert layers of hierarchy and function between themselves and their customers, the relationship between business and customer can often feel impersonal, transactional.   A brand, no matter how great, isn’t a person.

What’s wrong is the assumption that introducing functions and hierarchies is the only way to scale.

What if, at that point where 10-ish people work with you, you decided to make them all ‘the boss’- each one of them capable and authorised to deliver on your promises the way you do?

What if, instead of splitting the customer experience into separate functions, you kept it intact from end to end and made each and every person in the business responsible for delivering it to their clients?

What if, instead of introducing layers of management to distract your team from your customers, you gave them a Customer Experience Score to follow and let them manage themselves?  With responsbility for the consequences of course.

You’d scale your business and keep it personal.  It’s just that the person your clients deal wouldn’t have to be you.

Discipline makes Daring possible.


Intrigued?  Ask me how.

Why it’s good to have people on trains

Why it’s good to have people on trains

My Great Western Railway train to Penzance was delayed by half an hour.  Someone had been taken ill on a train in front of us.   The tannoy kept us informed, and let us know that we would be able to claim compensation via the train operator’s website.

So far, so standard.

But here’s the difference a real-life, flesh and blood human made:

Knowing that some of the passengers would have missed their connection to Newquay, the train manager asked them to identify themselves as he walked through the train, so he could arrange alternative transport.  Having worked out what their actual needs were, a bus was arranged to pick most of them up from St Austell, while for one person, a taxi was booked to get them to Newquay airport in time to make their plane.  All at no extra cost.

Because the train manager saw their job as getting people to their desired destination as near on time as possible, not merely to carry them from A to B.

How very different from ‘rebel’ brand Virgin, who will happily chuck passengers off a train well short of their destination, to avoid the costs of further delays down the line, leaving them to scramble onwards as best they can.

I’ve supported the rail strikes since the beginning.   I support them even more enthusistically now.   Even though my Penzance trip was a day later than booked because of them.

These people aren’t just fighting for their jobs, they’re fighting for the kind of service I for one want to receive.  A human one.



If you’re a micro business looking to serve more people well, consider this before you add the next person to your team:

Are you trying to make your music louder or more complex?

Getting louder is simple.  Just let each new person follow the score you play from, alongside you.   On a different instrument maybe, to give richness to the sound.  Or give them a copy of your score so they can play elsewhere or in a different timezone.   It’ll still be your music, still a personal experience for customers, only nearer to them.

Once you’ve mastered louder, making your music more complex gets easier too.  Write a new score for the new thing you want to offer, teach new or existing people to play it, and put them wherever you want, to harmonise or contrast with your existing musicians.  Better still, make sure every player is able to play every variation, in case they need to.   So you can make your complex music louder.

It’s hard to do both at once without confusing your musicians and your audience.

So if in doubt, I’d start with louder.

Discipline makes Daring possible.

The sound of the sea

The sound of the sea

I’m back.  After 5 days of walking, 4 days of talking, and 2 days of chilling and walking.  In places where the lanes are narrow, the sea is everywhere and it’s often impossible to get a signal.   A short holiday in a remote location, followed by a conference in an even more remote location.

What have I learned?

That gathering ‘the news’ intermittently via intermittent access to twitter is good enough.

That gathering people together to share how they’re changing a system far bigger than themselves is amazing.  When everyone realises they are actually doing it, the changes just get bigger.  And more people join in.

That the sound of the sea is a good thing to fall asleep to.

It’s great to be back.

Getting out from under

Getting out from under

No matter how light the burden, or what a joy it is to carry, it’s good to get out from under it once in a while.

I’m disappearing off for a holiday.  Back on the 19th.

Take care.

Some days…

Some days…

…only kittens will do.


Take care of yourself.