What does the House of Lords have in common with Silicon Valley

Yesterday was the official opening of Parliament in London. It’s a full on ceremony with traditions stretching back hundreds of years. I was fortunate to have been invited to afternoon tea with one of the Lords and got to see the inside workings of this most British of traditions. Several hours after the Queen opened Parliament I got to see the Debating Chamber (which was packed and full of debate), to walk the corridors and rub shoulders with Lords, and to see the robing room where the Queen with Ladies in Waiting prepared to deliver her opening speech.

It was a fascinating insight and I was struck by a similarity I’d experienced only a couple of weeks earlier. I’m just back from two weeks in San Francisco and Silicon Valley meeting some of the smartest entrepreneurs and the venture capitalists in the States.

So what could these two possibly have in common?

It’s about Values. 

In the Queens robing room, there are a series of paintings on the walls by William Dyce. They depict the chivalric virtues of hospitality, generosity, mercy, religion and courtesy, as represented through scenes from the legend of King Arthur and his court. There are two other frescoes, illustrating fidelity and courage.

In this most hallowed of institutions, it’s fascinating to see the Queen surrounded by the values which have been part of this instition for hundreds of years. Right before she walks into the Houses of Parliament to deliver her speech, these are the influences she has around her.

Values. Values. Values. They influence our mindset and drive behaviours. Behaviours drive actions and actions drive results.

In Silicon Value, I see some of the most successful ventures being driven by a shared set of behaviours, by a common purpose. Marc Benioff at SalesForce has values and culture right at the heart of his juggernaut of a technology business.

If they are good enough for the Queen, the House of Lords and the finest in Silicon Valley, are they good enough to put at the heart and centre of your business and your team?

At their very simplest, values are all about agreeing what’s important to each team of people and making sure they are something that is regularly talked about and influences what the team collectively does and how they show up.

Have an awesome day everyone.

The Two Year Goal - Yachting World

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For years I've been an avid reader of Yachting World. It's with a good amount of excitement and pride that in the July issue,  the first article of a two part series I've written on our recent adventures has been published.  It's a 7 page feature with plenty of pics and although I can't include the full text here, it covers the idea, where it came it from, how we started to get the finances together to make it happen and then the massive setback which meant that it almost didn't happen at all.

In all good newsagents and I suspect on the Yachting World website soon.

Next blog to cover my latest adventures in Silicon Valley and tuning into the start up and Venture Capital community there.

Have an awesome day

Caspar

What's your Purpose?

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I was reminded today of a favourite quote:

"There are two important days in your life. The day you are born and the day you work out why”

The essence of that is about finding your purpose in life. Your identity and how you can contribute to the world.

I reflected.

I’m currently in San Francisco and for the past week have been racing around connecting with some amazing people (and allegedly doing some work getting our boat Aretha ready to go sailing in 9 weeks time).

It’s also given me a little time to think about the crazy journey that I’m currently on. I’m in process of building my next business. It’s based around my speaking and what I’ve learnt about Leadership and Teamwork.

I reflect on the journey I was on when I built my last business Trovus and how that was different.

Back then, it was more about money, it was about growing the business and achieving numbers. It felt hard.

This time round, my mindset is different. The focus is serving and helping other people. Contributing to the world and sharing what I've been priveliged to experience, discover and learn.

It’s such a powerful shift, it’s hard to find the words to articulate it.

The closest I can get is that it feels like the day I worked out my purpose. I truly believe that my purpose to inspire other people and to share what I’ve been fortunate to learn about leadership and building teams. The outcome is that it brings out the very best in people so that others can achieve exceptional results.

My wish for you to keep asking whats your purpose in life, how can you contribute to others and find your reason for being.

The clues are there, but often overlooked. What is it you love doing? What are you passionate about? What makes you feel alive and excited. Even if you’ve not experienced that for a while, cast your mind back and find those things that give you energy. That thing right there that you thought about. That’s a good clue. A good starting point. Explore that and enjoy the journey of discovery.

Feel Better in Just 10 Seconds. Proven Scientifically (ish).

 

I’m enjoying being immersed back in learning again. Being coached, attending conferences and reading. Lots of reading.

Want one of my favourites from the past week?

I borrowed it from Tim Ferriss book, Tools of Titans and it’s a 10 second exercise.

Here goes:

Very simply. Think of two people you know.

Think for just 10 seconds how you want those two people to be happy and how you wish the very best for them.

In my non scientific sample of sharing this with 7 people, everyone said they felt better after 10 seconds.

I thought it was pretty cool anyway.

If you want a 30 second update of interesting stuff in my world, read on. If not, that’s totally cool and I’ll be back next week to share my latest thoughts.

I’m excited to have a 5 page feature coming out early next month in Yachting World. It’s the first of several features/ articles. It’s got some of my favourite pics in it too. Sticking with publishing, I had another first this week - seeing my book featured in Bloomsbury’s catalogue of upcoming books that they are selling into their distributors (pic below)

My latest speaking gigs continue apace - speaking to lots of charities last week about “Failure”, and how that word doesn’t really exist in my world. Feedback and experiments are my preferred language. My talk from the Hero Round Table is now live at www.casparcraven.com on why my kids are my heroes. Lots more speaking gigs starting to appear in the diary too which is exciting.

Finally. I’m back on Aretha, our home for 2 years as we sailed around the world and currently in San Francisco. I'm happily prepping her for our next sailing adventures this summer. I just also learnt I’m going to miss the heatwave back in England! It’s rare to arrive in California and for it to be colder than England.

Have an awesome week everyone and let me know if the 10 second feel better thing works.

Caspar, Out.

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The only certain thing.

I’ve spent the past couple of days reflecting. In truth, it was partially driven by a slightly hungover Sunday morning.

Here’s what I noticed.

The first is the extent of change we are experiencing in the world. Economically, politically and culturally. I see the disruption happening in all sectors. Banking, Education, Retail, Charities. Everywhere.

The norms we’ve had of traditional institutions for the past generation are now changing. Areas of our lives that we thought were now certain are uncertain.

Take Banking for example. The primary asset of banks in the past has been trust. That is now changing - partly of their own making with events of the past and partly because technology is providing alternatives that engender trust through transparency and efficiency.

In a world of uncertainty, how do you create your own certainty?

Depending on your frame of reference, you’ll likely view this as exciting or terrifying. What is certain is that change is happening.  To do nothing to embrace change is to make a choice. What other choices are there?

What I see as the single most important competitive factor that organisations need to develop is that of culture, teamwork and how teams work together. That single factor alone has to be the certainty that organisations need to handle the disruption and change that is upon us. How you work together and handle things. How you learn, how you adapt to failure, how you change your approach to create a winning formula.

My advice. Immerse yourself in learning how to truly make your culture and the teams that you work strong and able to adapt to whatever the world throws at you. 

Anyone who has read a few of my blogs will know I’m always conscious of the influences that you allow into your world. Just this week I shared the stage with Lord Stone, the COO for Real Estate for Deutsche Bank, heroes from the Charity sector, leading Academics, Heads of Learning and Development, Joe de Sena who runs Spartan and many many others. I share this not to brag, but to highlight diversity. It’s a huge privilege to be exposed to so many amazingly diverse minds at their top of their game. It gives me many different perspectives on what is going on in the world. The associated question is what influences do you consciously allow into your world?

Communication Overload

Last Sunday, I sat down at my Mac to catch up on planning for my next event. I needed some background detail on the audience and the messages the event booker wanted me to share. I knew the message was somewhere. I just couldn’t find it.

Something dawned on me as I was searching through all my communication channels. Four different email accounts, texts, Whatsapp, LinkedIn Messages, Facebook messages. I realised I had communication overload.

I counted at least 15 different communication channels. The more I thought about it, I realised two things.

  1. That I have no central way to hold all the messages so that I could easily find what I was looking for; and
  2. That we all have a preferred channel. You can tell which a person's preferred channel is because they are usually so much more responsive to a message from that channel.

I decided to crowdsource some insights from my friends on Facebook. Here’s a summary of my favourite answers as to how friends deal with communication overload and their preferred channels:

- The number of communication channels is actually counteracting the initial purpose. If you want to reach me now - call me. Email - will answer within 48 hrs (read 3-4 times a week). Text & Messengers - once a day;

- Perhaps unsurprisingly, most people use different channels for different purposes. Email and phone and maybe LinkedIn for work, Facebook and Insta for light social interactions.

- Talking - ah the old fashioned way - still the best

- The most liked comment was VHF Radio - almost certainly a reflection a good few of my friends are sailors.

- Only one person mentioned the good old letter. Still one of my favourites to sit down with a pen and paper and scribe a letter.

I'm now implementing a more disciplined regime along the lines of the first comment above. 

Switching subjects, my cousin Scott became internet famous last week.  A true hero in many senses of the word throughout his life. And the thing he becomes famous for is saving a cat from a lock in London. Its currently up 11m views on the BBC website.

On the subject of Heroes, I’m looking forward to speaking at the Hero Round Table this Friday and Saturday at the Barbican in London. Friday’s talk is a TED style talk on Culture and Values title “Why my children are my heroes” and Saturday’s talk is a workshop on “How to build a Hero Team”. There are still tickets available - it’d be great to see you there. Details all at:

http://heroroundtable.com

Have an awesome week,

Caspar

What do you allow to influence you?

There’s a great saying that you get the life of the 5 people you spend most time with. 

I like to draw extreme examples to really understand something. Imagine that the 5 people you spend most time with are the likes of Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Bill Gates. What would your life look like? Would you be full of ideas, how to make the world a better place and making things happen. Would you be more focused and make things happen? If those people don’t float your boat, pick the 5 people you’d find most inspiring and ask the same question.

Imagine the other extreme. The 5 people are low energy people who do nothing to contribute to society and are all about taking rather than giving. What would your life look like then?

Clearly neither extreme is realistic - the point is deliberately extreme.

Do you consciously think about who you spend most time with. Are they people who lift you up and give you energy? Or are they people who take from you and bring you down and constantly find what is wrong in any situation.

It’s not just people. What you read and consume - social media, books, magazines and so on. What are the things that you see everyday that influence you on a conscious and subconscious level?

Do you make a conscious decision about what you allow to influence you. Things as simple as the pictures and images that you have in your house - things that you see every day influence you and what you think.

I gave a talk this week on the concept of designing your life. In it I simply shared three stories of things that we did to consciously, deliberately and intentionally design our lives as a family team. The feedback was very insightful. It clearly struck a chord with at least some of the audience. Encouraged by this, my wife, (Nichola) and I decided to create a day long workshop called Design Your Life. In it, we will cover the approaches we used and specific practical things we learnt to consciously and deliberately design our lives so that we could create the wealth and change our lives so that we could sail around the world. We were overbooked within a few hours of putting it out there. Based on the feedback we get, and if we feel we are adding real value to other people, we may look to do more of these. 

The question I’d encourage you to reflect on is what is it that you allow to influence you. Are you making those choices for your life or are they simply happening to you?

 

Caspar was our motivational speaker at our EMEA launch event. He totally delivered the goods and I’d hire him again in a heartbeat
— Barrie Desmond - COO - Exclusive Networks

Stop. Take a moment to notice…

Notice what exactly?

What do you notice when you stop and pause for a moment?

I’m talking about that thing where the world is trying to give you a message but you’re just not hearing it.

    •    In a business where you keep doing the same thing and are frustrated because you expected a different result.

    •    In a relationship, where you keep doing the same thing and getting the same outcome.

    •    With your kids where you keep getting cross with them for the same thing

The answer for me is what I call living in reality. Seeing things as they are. Not better. Not worse. Just as they are.

Notice and listen to the message. What messages is the world sending you. 

If you keep bashing your head against the same thing and not getting anywhere, what does that tell you?

Maybe that you have to try something different?

I have a short story

5 or 6 weeks ago, I stopped.

I’d started to notice a pattern. Patterns are super important. They are clues to figuring things out.

I noticed in virtually all my conversations, someone asked me “do you do any coaching?”. 

I’ve had multiple coaches myself over the past 10 years but I’d never imagined myself as a coach.

Once I noticed, I stopped saying no and I started saying YES.

Without seeking it in the following few weeks, I found myself coaching three energised and ambitious businesses/ leaders who wanted to achieve more.

I surprised myself when I realised how much I enjoyed it. 

To be able to enter someones world from a high level perspective and see the wood for the trees is rewarding when with a few small nudges you can send them in a direction that gets them significantly closer to where they want to be. You truly feel you can have an impact.

It sealed the deal this week when I got some messages from my coaching clients which read:

“Hi Caspar….the value dial on our largest client has steam coming out of the dial!  …. mega exciting …this is our million pound account”

The context for our coaching was how did this business grow and double their size by winning their first million pound account.

In another message:

“I wanted to update you on the strategy you suggested. I did it with a potential new client last week and I thought she was going to cry she was so touched”

What’s my message for you

Just stop and listen.

What messages is the world giving you?

Spot the patterns and act on them.

Even if you are wrong and misread the messages, your actions will take you in a different direction and you’ll discover and learn new things so you can keep adapting your course.

Finishing my story

For me, although, I’ve a good amount going on with Keynote speaking, start ups and existing roles, I’m carving out space to coach just 5 clients. 3 of those spaces have gone, so I have 2 spaces left.

The ideal profile of someone who’d benefit from my coaching them would be:

1) A business leader who wants to make an impact on the world. Someone with drive who wants a sounding board from someone who has been there before, 

OR

2) Someone who has exited their business and is looking for their next thing/ to reinvent themselves

If you’re open minded, want to move forward and interested, get in touch (07786 197622) and we it’d be great to speak to see if I can help you.

Have an awesome day, Caspar

 

Why do it now? The power of urgency

Why do it now?

One of the biggest issues that we all face is the question of Urgency. Whether you are a busy executive looking to drive growth, you have a project on, or you want to make something happen with your family, we all face the same issue at some time or another.

Procrastination.

Delays. A lack of urgency.

Procrastination is the default for many people. It's not entirely surprising. Without a compelling reason or a deadline the reason WHY you should do it now isn't that strong. Particularly if it will cost you money, means you have to take a risk or step out of your comfort zone. If there isn't a strong reason forcing you do to something, it's easier to do something else. It's amazing how quickly time can be filled with the non-important and safe things to do.

Naturally, we all sit on both side of the equation at different points in our lives. We all have experiences of both. When we want someone to do something for us such as getting a builder to do some work on your house or a landlord to make repairs to a property yo u live in. When you want something done that depends on someone else, we've all experienced that frustration. Same thing at work - getting a team of people to hit deadlines.

When someone asks you to do something, we instinctively know whether it's something we love and want to do or something that is harder or involves more risk. Different things for different people.

For me, reviewing and going into detail on contracts means I'm less likely to be running towards it. If it involves being creative and new ideas I'm at the front of the queue. For others, it's the reverse.

So. How to practically deal with this? First off, make sure that whoever you are asking to do something, make sure that it's something they are well aligned to. The outcome will simply be better. Little point asking me to get involved in writing contracts. I won't race towards it and I won't be particularly good at it.

Second and my favourite. Nothing ever happens without a deadline. If you haven't got one, create one and make it real. Why do so many people complete their tax return in t he last week of January?

Simple, there is a 31st January deadline with a fine if you miss it. Filling in a tax return involves paying money and doing some work. No one wonder people put it off until the last minute. Imagine if there wasn't a deadline. I'm pretty certain that a large proportion of the population would never complete a tax return!

What do you want to get done? What are the reasons why it isn't happening? Is the right person working on it and do you have a deadline are probably the two most important questions you want to start with.

Caspar shared his amazing story with current members who have recently exited their businesses..

The value came from the story of the planning.

Overall agreement was that regularly reviewing your life purpose was incredibly important, especially if you run your own business!

Thank you Caspar - Brilliant.
— EJ Packe - Managing Director at Prelude

Executional Excellence - What can sailing around the world teach us about working as a team and moving from an idea to an outcome?

I'm a little humbled to be the cover story for Professional Marketing Forum Magazine (PM Forum). My blog this week is simply my article they have run this month on the importance of teamwork in the face of adversity. Here it is.....

It’s like a broken record. Every company talks about teamwork and how we do things. It’s usually all in corporate language and no one really knows what it all means. The reality is that success is all about working as a team and getting things done. Moving from ideas and talking about things to actually making them happen.

I’d like to share with you a story from when I recently sailed around the world with my wife and three young children aged just 2, 7 and 9. The story is about how we, as a team, dealt with a life threatening situation.

What’s that got to do with your day-to-day life in professional services world? The answer is, EVERYTHING. I spent 8 years working in Professional

Services firms (Baker Tilly and KPMG) and then another 9 years as a supplier to professional services firms (Bighand and Trovus). I’ve got a pretty good insight into how things work, or how they sometimes don’t.

What I learnt in the business world was excellent preparation for preparing for and then dealing with the challenges of sailing around the world. Especially when you have to break it down into language that a 2 year old, 7 year old and 9 year old can understand.

Working together as a team

It was May 2015. We were deep in the Pacific Ocean, some 500 miles from the nearest piece of land and we experienced complete power failure. No autopilot to drive the boat, no navigation equipment, no engine, no generator, no lights, no cooker, no water pumps.

We were dead in the water and had to figure out a way to get us safely to land. Remember the film Apollo 13, where the space shuttle loses all power in space and the 3 astronauts in the shuttle and the hundred or so rocket scientists had to figure out a way to get the shuttle safely home. Well our situation was like that. Apart from the fact that we didn't have 3 astronauts and 100 rocket scientists. We had my wife, our three young children and me.

Not only that but we had 30-40 mile an hour winds and huge seas and a boat that was stinking of diesel. The space we occupied in total was no bigger than your average size living room.

So how would you survive? How would you work together as a team to get through and to get a good outcome, like staying alive? Would you blame other people or would you own the situation, take responsibility and figure out a way through.

The answer to how we dealt with it and survived was planted some 5 years earlier.

When I was growing my business, Trovus, with my Co-Founder Ed some 5 years earlier, we were looking for ways to get an edge and make us work better as a team.

We went down the route of focusing on our vision, our mission and in particular our values.

I remember doing values work when I’d worked in both corporates and in professional services firms. If I’m brutally honest I thought it was a waste of time. It didn't really mean anything. We did it once a year and then forgot about it until the next year. It inspired cynicism and raised eyebrows more than anything for cohesive behaviours.

This time round, I took the time to really understand what values were all about. It was about how our values would shape our behaviours as a team, how our behaviours shaped our actions and how our actions shaped our outcomes.

We spent time in the business debating and agreeing what our values were as a team. We didn't just leave it there though. We then lived those values, every day and every week, not just once a year at appraisal time. We regularly talked about them and reinforced them. They gave us a way to focus on what was right rather than what was wrong.

Ever noticed with a small child where you say, “Don’t do that”. And then all you seem to get is more of thing that you don’t want. Values are the antidote to that. They encourage the behaviours that you want to see more of.

You talk about them regularly and focus on the behaviours that you want to see.

So, here’s the thing.

What we learnt at Trovus about the values (which was a key part in us building the business up and selling it) was something we did at home too.

That’s right. We ran a values exercise at home too. The same things that we did at work, I applied at home. We had to simplify the language a little bit, but we created a set of 6 values that we agreed were important to us. Our values were Love, Action, Go Prepared, Understanding, Learn Something and Happy.

Just as we did in Trovus, we didn't stop there. We lived them every single day. First thing in morning we had values prizes and focused on the things we’d seen that were great examples of behaviours we wanted to encourage. It became so ingrained that our children would run the values sessions for us and actively looked forward to the sessions.

So how did we respond when we lost all power and were in a life-threatening situation?

It was pretty simple really. We lived our values. We found humour in the situation. We worked as a team. We looked after each other. We made sure each person was ok. The children and how they reacted were a major part of how we survived.

There was no blame. It was perhaps one of our finest moments when we all worked together as a team. Over the next four days, my wife and I hand steered the boat, steering by the stars through huge seas and working as a team with our children navigated our way to safety on the tiny island of Niue.

There were many more lessons that we took from it.

1) Things are going to go wrong.

In business and in life, we make decisions about things we want to achieve and where we want to go.

You can pretty much guarantee that something is going to go wrong. In business, you might lose a key client, key team members, the competition gets stronger, you vote to leave the EU. It could be anything. The only thing you can guarantee is that something will go wrong. Much as it will on a boat at some point.

The only thing that makes a difference is how you react to it when it does. Do you work as a team and deal with whatever comes up or do you turn in on yourselves and blame each other. One way is a winning strategy. One way isn’t!

2) Get into Action

So many people wait for perfect. When we were going sailing, we could have done 100 more things to be better prepared. The point is you do your best take on your preparations and then you get moving. If we had waited for perfect, we’d never have got underway. There is no perfect time. There is only now. Do the best you can with what you have and then get underway.

3) Continuous Learning

One of our values was around continuous learning. Every single failure and every single success was a learning opportunity. We’d stop as a team, we’d talk and we’d reflect on what we learnt. Shared learning experiences are far more powerful because you’ll get different points of view. In our situation, we added two more additional power supply sources to avoid future power failure.

There is an African saying, “if you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far, go together.” In your teams both at work and at home, focus on the behaviours that you want to see and encourage them, don’t wait for perfect, always look for what you can learn from any situation and take ownership and deal with whatever comes up.

Caspar Craven is a motivational speaker and consultant on leadership. He specialises in building winning teams. www.casparcraven.com

Caspar is inspirational to be with. He has a wealth of business experience and adventure. You should hire him as a speaker, he will change your view of life and what you can achieve.
— Paul Covell - Special Interest Lecturer

Join me at the Hero Round Table

I'm excited to be speaking at the Hero Round Table this May 12-13 in London at the Barbican Centre.

Called the TED talks for heroism, it's the 6th event the Hero Round Table has run and I'll be on stage with some inspiring people like Lord Stone (Former MD of Marks & Spencers), Dan Edwardes, Sally Kettle and lots of other people who've done some amazing things.  

I'll be speaking twice - one is a 12 minute TED style talk on why my children are my heroes and one is an hour long workshop on how to build a hero team.

If you'd like to come join me, use the code CRAVEN when booking for an exclusive discount until April 10th at www.heroroundtable.com

Here's the intro video to tell you more...

Caspar’s story is simply inspirational!

I recently had the pleasure of seeing Caspar address an audience of over 800 technology channel people in Cannes, France. A mix of senior executives, managers, sales, marketing and techies, of which 3/4 were from outside the UK so English wasn’t their first language.

Despite the language barrier Caspar had them engaged for over an hour telling his story with purpose, vulnerability, humour and humility, making it relevant and demonstrating how the biggest of challenges can be overcome.

It just goes to demonstrate the power of a great story. Highly recommended for any business looking to grow its leadership teams
— Mark Waite - Managing Director at Tech PR & Marketing consultancy, Cohesive Communications

How to make Vision, Mission and Values Stick (and Caspar's latest news)

So I’ve been busy working with one company over the past few weeks. The topics have been around Vision, Mission and Values.

For years when I was working in Corporate World, this area was always a little bit of a mystery to me. It was always lots of words. Often crammed in on some matrix structure onto one page to get as much detail in as possible with lots of explanations.

There was a moment though when it came clear to me.

It all boiled down to simplicity.

Why was our vision to sail around the world with our children so powerful. Because it was simple. We could communicate it in a matter of seconds and other people could pass it on without losing or confusing the message.

Same thing holds true with successful companies. Simple powerful messages around making things better for the customer, solving real world problems. 

It doesn’t matter what you write on the piece of paper.

It only matters what you carry in your head and what you can simply and easily communicate to other people. 

Simple. Powerful. Emotional.

 

In other news, it’s a been a busy week. Some highlights:

- I’m thrilled to have signed a contract with Bloomsbury (the same publishers behind JK Rowling and Harry Potter) to write the book around how we changed our lives and sailed around the world;

- I’m due to speak twice at the Hero Round Table when it comes to London in May this year. I’m doing a 12 minute talk on Why My Children are My Heroes and also an hour long workshop on how to build a Hero Team (message me if you're interested and I can let you have a discount code. Places are limited and selling fast).

- I’m excited to have started working with the talented and focused team at Coterie Marketing as a Non Exec. 

Have an awesome week everyone and keep smiling,

 

Attended a talk at STREAM 2017 in Cape Town given by Caspar, and it was everything you need a talk about value-driven living and leadership to be. He engages the audience by sharing a personal account which all can relate to and offers a creative value-orientated route through it, harnesses input from the audience which enriches the experience, and facilitates such that the take-aways are immediately actionable. Yay for Caspar - he literally inspired us to try something new both at home and at work.
— Lea Esterhuizen Founder | &Wider

Follow your Dreams. It’s better for business.

Huh? How does that work?

That sounds counter-intuitive.

The intuitive response for some might be that if you follow your dreams, you’ll leave where you work and the business will be worse off. Also. What about lack of focus? If everyone is focused on their dreams, they won’t be working on the business and their roles.

So, why is it that I encourage people to follow their dreams?

It’s because I believe that the opposite holds true. 

If you encourage your team to follow their dreams, you’ll have more motivated, more loyal and hard working teams who are working with purpose towards something that really matters to them. 

Making a dream happen is significantly harder than having it and it takes time, the need to learn, to plan and to seize the initiative to make things happen.

Let me share 7 specific reasons in support of this:

  1. You’ll enjoy life more if you are working towards something you really care about. You’ll be happier, more motivated and have more energy. That energy can’t help but fill other areas of your life. 
  2. The skills you’ll need to develop to plan and make your dreams happen are highly valuable skills. Things like teamwork, resourcefulness, taking the initiative and creativity. What business wouldn't want more of these skills?
  3. Being around people living with a purpose is so much more energising. That’s a benefit to your whole team.
  4. People are going to have dreams anyway. Why not show that you care and encourage them. Feeling cared about is one of the most motivating things a person can feel.
  5. Different perspectives. You’ll learn more, you’ll get different perspectives, your brain will have time to reflect, to learn and take on board different influences. You’ll be a better person because of it.
  6. You might find in reality, the goal for many people is not to actually make the dream happen but to feel the freedom and excitement of planning it and the feeling of possibility.
  7. It takes time to make your dreams happen. In our case it took 5 years of planning and working towards it. Given that the average length of time an employee stays with a company is 4.5 years, there’s a good chance people will have left anyway! In the meantime, you’ll have benefitted from the increased energy, learning and focus.

In the 5 years it took to make our dream happen I was forced to learn more than I'd ever learnt before, to become a better leader, a better team member and ultimately our business thrived and grew. I learnt to take my ego out of business and find the solutions that were right to grow the business.

The mantra "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together" really caught in my mind and I had to learn how to grow a team and make them better rather than making me better.

In some ways, it reminds me a little of a quote I heard some time back where a CFO and his CEO were talking. The quote goes something like this:

The CFO asked: “What happens if we invest money in training in our employees and they leave?”

The CEO replied: “What happens if we don’t and they stay”.

Made me smile. In all the ventures I’m involved in and have been involved in, I always take the time to ask each person what’s truly important to them in life and what do they want to do. Once you get clear on those things, even just thinking about and doing that thing for 5 minutes a day will be so much more rewarding than not doing it all. You’ll have more purpose, more energy and that can only be a huge benefit to any business.

 

Inspiring!! Caspar spoke at our annual Group kick-off event and gave terrific insights into the importance of holding true to your values, being resourceful and not waiting for perfect when it’s time to pursue your dream.

We were blown away by his unique experiences out on the open seas and more over how he applied these perfectly to the global theme of our event, making it very relevant to our audience and their personal/shared objectives.

Caspar was wonderful to work with, with his very positive and constructive nature. He engaged with the team seamlessly and dealt with any challenge we through his way – though I guess that shouldn’t be surprising!
— Hadas Hughes Group Director, Marketing Communications and Programmes at Exclusive Group

Poetry at Sea - Don't Dance so Fast

Got a moment?

Listen to this great reminder to slow down and enjoy the important things in life read by my talented school friend Pete.

Inspired by my son Columbus doing poetry at school, I was reminded of a favorite poem I first heard read by Paul Covell. We read loads of poetry whilst at sea so a reminder to myself as much as anything to read more...

Here's the full text.

Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round, or listened to rain slapping the ground? 

Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight, or gazed at the sun fading into the night? 

You better slow down, don't dance so fast, time is short, the music won't last. 

Do you run through each day on the fly, when you ask "How are you?", do you hear the reply? 

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed, with the next hundred chores running through your head? 

You better slow down, don't dance so fast, time is short, the music won't last. 

Ever told your child, we'll do it tomorrow, and in your haste, not see his sorrow? 

Ever lost touch, let a friendship die, 'cause you never had time to call and say hi? 

You better slow down, don't dance so fast, time is short, the music won't last. 

When you run so fast to get somewhere, you miss half the fun of getting there. 

When you worry and hurry through your day, it's like an unopened gift thrown away. 

Life isn't a race, so take it slower, hear the music before your song is over.

 

The poem is called Slow Dance by David Weatherford.

Want to know about Pete's awesome Voiceovers - his website's here.

 

Caspar is a master of leadership and team building because he’s actually lived it in his life. He’s truly an adventurer who squeezes the juice out of life and has combined that with his skill in business to create a message that is truly unique.
— Joe Williams (Tony Robbins Head Trainer for 20+ years)

Design your Life>  A contrarian approach for getting what you really want in life

I’m excited today. 

Here’s why.

Tomorrow I’m been invited as a special guest to an afternoon session run by the Supper Club (a network of the UK’s fastest growing and most impressive businesses). In attendance will be 20 of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs who’ve built up and sold businesses.

I’ll be presenting and sharing my approach of how I successfully sold my business and as importantly what do you do afterwards.

As I prepare my notes for tomorrow, I realise that my approach will almost certainly be different to everyone else in the room. The traditional route for an entrepreneur is to build up your business, to sell it and then go off and do the things that you’ve always wanted to do.

I was doing that route. Until we decided to take a different route.

We decided to turn things on their head. With my wife, we jointly decided on some things we really wanted to do in life. In our case, that happened to be sailing around the world with our children.

We set a date. It was the 1st August 2014. We decided on that date we were going to set off sailing around the world. We made decisions about how we wanted to do it, where we wanted to go, what sort of boat we needed and how much money we’d need.

That one decision changed everything. 

Rather than building a business to sell at some point in the future, we were now on a timeline driven by an incredibly vivid shared picture of the future. We told everyone about it - especially our children. We made it as visible as possible. We wanted to be held accountable.

We gave ourselves 5 years to make it happen. I won’t dress it up. They were 5 tough years. Some things went well. Many things went wrong. We had to learn more than we’d ever learnt before. I became a better leader, our business thrived in a way that I just don't think it would have done had we not set a personal ambitious goal.

Driven by the vision of sailing around the world, we totally transformed our relationship, our wealth and our relationship with our children. I sold my business but not in the traditional way. I left in place an incredibly impressive team running the business and we actually sold the business whilst we sailing in the middle of the Pacific Ocean (I’m not sure, but that may be the first time someone has done that).

We achieved our vision and are now following exactly the same blueprint and formula to design the next chapter of our lives.

So. Whats the message?

Rather than putting business or work first. Work out (much better with your partner) whats really important to you in life. Paint that picture of the future. Make it vivid. Make it real. Work out what you need to do to achieve that goal. Then go for it.

In the journey to get there, its pretty much guaranteed you’ll have to go through massive learning, to embrace new ways of doing things and to become a better leader, team member and contribute more to all the teams you work in. My business thrived because I had to build an incredible team who could run it without me and that led to a successful exit.

When would NOW be a good time to design your future and make it happen?

Need a KeyNote speaker? For each speaking event that I’m booked for, I donate an equal amount of my time to speak at a Charity or School of your choice.

Watch my showreel video here >>>>>

The talk was fantastic and it went down a storm. We already knew a bit about Caspar’s inspirational story, but his talk far exceeded our expectations when we booked him as a speaker for our annual Partner Awards. As a dynamic and engaging speaker, our partners were both moved and inspired by Caspar’s incredible story. His motif of ‘working together as a team to achieve your dreams’ went down a storm and really helped us reinforce the messages we were promoting with our event. I would recommend Caspar as a speaker for any event.
— Hannah Flaherty Marketing Manager at Venntro Media Group

Small hinges swing big doors

I’m starting this week with one of my favourite quotes. It’s about the power of tiny shifts having a massive impact. Let me share an example from the book, Nudge.

A leading high street chain of pharmacists set themselves the challenge of growing the average spend per basket. In other words, how much each shopper spent on average.

They started with a fact find: what actually happens at the moment. They ran the data, they watched, they observed, they looked for key trends and patterns. They were after insight. 

They key thing that emerged was that when shoppers entered they generally didn’t pick up a shopping basket. Presumably because they didn’t think they needed a basket and wouldn’t spend that much. 

What they observed was that people ended up carrying their purchases in their arms and got to a natural limit where they couldn’t carry any more ... and hence couldn’t spend any more. 

Since the shopping baskets were at the store entrance it wasn’t particularly convenient or easy to go back and get a basket.

Armed with this information, the answer became very self-evident. They placed the baskets in the centre of the store as well as at the entrance. 

The outcome: the average basket size rose. 

A seemingly small shift in something as simple as where to place shopping baskets had a disproportionate impact on revenue growth. Small hinges really do swing big doors.

Every single business has the opportunity to do this. We all have data – it just needs to be held under the right light to see the patterns and stories. 

Alongside my keynote speaking, I’m working with a number of businesses and charities to drive growth and competitive advantage. One of the key questions I bring to each table is to ask the question around data and how that can support different ideas. 

I encourage everyone to think about continuous improvements and how things can be made better. It all starts with a gut feeling, a hunch around something you think might be true. Then you look to what data you have and how you can quickly and effectively test that hypothesis. Test quickly and if it works do more to it. If it doesn't do less of it. It’s a series on ongoing experiments.

It's exactly the same with sailing oceans. When you are at sea with thousands of miles to sail, small tweaks can have a disproprtionately large impact. You are continually studying the data - the wind angles, the wind strengths, the sail plan and the sail trim. It's an ongoing series of experiments 24 hours a day looking for the best performance.

My thought to share... work out where you want to get to, study the data carefully and look for the shifts that you can make that can have a big impact. Small shifts can truly have a big impact. Develop a mindset of being a scientist and run lots of experiments.

Caspar is a fantastic speaker. He’s speaking from experience. He’s speaking from the heart. The things he’s talking about he’s really done.

He has taken that leap of faith and he’s proven the results.
— Robin Muto - Founder at Ignite a Life

5 insights from some of the UK’s most successful innovators.

Fixing Hated Industries - Image by Oli Barrett MBE

Fixing Hated Industries - Image by Oli Barrett MBE

It took me most of the weekend to get my head around what I experienced last Thursday.

I felt very privileged to be invited as a special guest on a day organised by the Good Lab and Newco and compered by Oli Barrett MBE) where the Innovation Leaders from the UK’s 10 largest charities were treated to an amazing day long safari of experiences.

The theme for the day: Fixing Hated Industries.

The 15 or so of us had closed doors discussions and presentations from the CEO’s of businesses disrupting and taking on industries that have been traditionally hated - Energy, Insurance and Banking.

In the Energy sector we were with Hayden Wood from Bulb Energy. In the Insurance sector we were with Jason Stockwood, CEO from Simply Business and in the Banking Sector, Tom Blomfield from Monzo (fresh on the back of closing a £22m fund raising half an hour before we saw him).

We then had panel discussions with Chris Moss (the CMO/CEO who launchedVirgin Atlantic, Orange and 118 118, with Mark O’Neill, CDO at the Department for Education, Jessica Chapplow from the MEC, Michelle Dewberry (winner of the Apprentice) and David Wilson, Head of Strategic Transformation from Barclays.

So. What insights and learnings came from the day?

There were many. For brevity, I’ll keep it to 5. 

  1. The first was that all the businesses were driven by a mission. The missions varied in nature but were all powerful. For Simply Business and Bulb to create something better for the customer. For Monzo, the rallying call was to solve all the annoying problems around banking;
  2. The second was the power of leadership rather than management. Jason Stockwood nailed it when he said that smart people don’t need managing - they need leading and to be shown a clear direction;
  3. The third was the power of culture and putting this right at the heart of an organisation. Values was one of the first areas to be espoused by Simply Business and re-endorsed when Chris Moss made the observation that Culture trumps strategy every single time. With a team who work together and are cohesive every problem is an opportunity waiting to be solved;
  4. As someone who used to run a Data Science business, it was no surprise to see that Data Science was being used all businesses to created a clear leading edge. Making data easy to access by everyone in the business and encouraging everyone to use a data driven approach is where it’s at. Change in the business starts with a hunch, intuition and is then fast and effectively tested. Businesses that don’t learn this approach will be left behind. It’s as simple as that;
  5. The customer. Putting the customer at the heart and centre of things is probably one of the most commonly heard business strategies. It’s there because it’s true. All these businesses are driven to fix customer problems and needs and truly serve the customer needs and outcomes.

I can’t think of a single industry which couldn’t benefit from sitting down with a blank sheet of paper, building from these principles and designing the business of the future. If it’s being done in Energy, Insurance, and Banking, then why not in any other space.

Start with a clear mission, leadership, culture, a data driven approach and a burning focus on customer needs and outcomes. Start with the blank sheet and then work out how to disrupt your own business/ organisation to make it happen.

As one of my mentors used to say to me, If you plan to be in the business that you’re in now, in 5 years time, you won’t be in a business. Most businesses go for incremental improvement. Why not be daring and brave. Go for radical evolution. The journey will inevitably be bumpy and you’ll need the right building blocks. If you don’t do, someone else will.

I would highly recommend Caspar as a speaker at a professional event as he tells a great story of team building which is highly motivational
— Kelley Bowles, Executive Advisor to Customer Success, Salesforce

What's the value of your time and why you should ruthlessly protect it.

As I find myself getting increasingly involved with speaking gigs, projects, non exec roles and consulting projects, I’m having to be increasingly careful with my time.

It reminded me of an article I wrote several years ago which I just revisited and have updated and amended on how to ruthlessly protect your time. Here it is...

I recall seeing a film years ago as a teenager - it was about a baseball coach and how he was coaching his team and he came out with a line which has always stuck with me: 

“There is one thing that makes us all the same - we all have 24 hours in a day.” 

How true, of course the difference between everyone though is what do you do with those 24 hours - how do you value your time and how do you protect your time? 

For me personally, I view time as my most valuable commodity and continually find ways to try to protect it so I can use it in the most productive way possible - that is trying to achieve my specific goals and objectives. We all know how easy it is for time to be swallowed up and you get to the end of a week and say where did the time go? What do I have to show for it? 

So, what I wanted to share with you is five ways for you to sidestep the time vampires (by the way that's anything that swallows up your time where you aren't actively or consciously managing your time). 

Some of these may only save you 5 minutes a day, but over the course of 250 working days in a year thats 1,250 minutes. Based on an 8 hour working day, that’s 2.6 days a year.

If you can do this with all five things, that's 13 days a year that you've now saved. Imagine what you could do for the next year if someone just handed you an extra 13 days that you didn't have before. 

So, here are the five things which could each save you 5 minutes a day: 

1 - Travel off peak  

When you travel at peak times, you are always slower - you have to fight your way through crowds of people, you are far less likely to get a seat if you travel by bus/ train. If you drive, it's likely that driving off peak will save you considerably more than 5 minutes a day. I personally get a train so that I arrive in the office at just after 7am - there are no queues, no waiting, I always get a seat and best of all I get to use the time productively as well which takes me to my next point.  

2 - Use travel time productively. 

Some of you will know that I stopped reading newspapers some time ago and felt massive benefits from this. Worst of all was reading one newspaper in the morning and a different newspaper in the evening. I don't miss reading these and I in fact use my 30 minutes on the train in very productive ways. Such as listening to audio books on my kindle, reading a book or even better doing some of my best thinking and making notes. I make a list the night before of a number of things I have to do and often find myself writing the emails and content on the train. When I arrive I’m ahead of the game and have dealt with possibly some of my harder to do things because I'm not being distracted and have good clarity of thought. 

3 - Know when you're at your best

Are you a morning person, an afternoon person or an evening person? By that I mean when are you at your most productive - the time when things feel easy and you absolutely fly through your to do list. Work out when it is and line up and plan to do your challenging tasks requiring thought at that time. You'll be much more productive. Save the more mundane tasks such as clearing emails or simpler tasks for times when your energy is lower and you are less productive.  

4- Make and use lists

It's impossible to carry everything in your head and still function at peak performance. Our brains just don't work that way. Create lists so you know what you need to achieve over the coming day, week, month and year. Although this is an up-front time investment, it pays dividends as you don't have to arrive at work every day, sit down and spend time working out what you are going to do that day - it's already planned and you can just get on with the priorities that you've already decided are important. 

5 - Switch off social media

Big one in my world. Just the biggest time suck. My biggest achilles heel. You go into Facebook and emerge half an hour later thinking you’ve been productive. The reality is that time has just gone. It's one that I find I have to manage very carefully and in fact have recently gone on a mass unsubscribe from lots of feeds and news sites. Literally I think I must have just saved an hour a day from that single thing.

I wish you luck sidestepping the time vampires. Imagine what you'd do with an extra 13 days a year...

Caspar was our motivational speaker at our EMEA launch event and delivered very powerful and relevant takeaways. His messages were told through highly memorable stories which touched people on many levels. His messages around teamwork, values, being resourceful and how to deal with tough challenges - despite the odds - were exactly what we wanted. Caspar totally delivered the goods and I’d hire him again in a heartbeat
— Barrie Desmond - Chief Operating Officer (COO) - Exclusive Networks

Culture wins. Every single time.

When I worked in a large corporate many years ago I used to be pretty cynical about corporate values. Words. More words. What did they really mean. Did anyone really care about them? They were something that was paid lip service to once a year and then ignored.

Maybe you’ve had the same experience?

Two things caused me to change my mind.

My children and trying to grow my business.

Lets start with the children. Have you ever noticed what happens when you say to a child “Don’t do that”. 

What happens?

That’s right. You get more of the behaviour that you don’t want to see.

Values are the antidote to that. They are a framework of behaviours that you agree on around how you behave and act together as a team. They tell you where you want to go. Not where you don’t want to go.

Our brains can’t process negative commands. Just like saying Don’t Panic. All you hear is the word Panic. Setting the direction you want to go in like Calm and Control will have a much more powerful effect.

As a family, we set our values and the behaviours we agreed we as a family wanted to see. Not to put to fine a point on it, but those values were the things that saved our lives in several death defying situations as we sailed around the world.

Similarly in my business, we invested significant time in both developing values and then most importantly making certain we lived them every week in the business. For me it was a cornerstone of growing and building the business to a point where we could successfully sell the business.

So, here’s my belief. Values, culture and behaviour are the very starting point for any business. Once you can define how you as a group of individuals can work together and form a winning team, you’ll be equipped to deal with the challenges that life and business will throw at you.

It’s one of the greatest buzzes I know to be part of a team that is thriving and winning. I feel privileged to have been asked to work with some incredible teams since returning from our sailing adventures. Focusing on culture and values is one of the first things we are doing. Whether it’s in my work with corporates, fast growth businesses or start up’s, we are getting into the fabric of what makes a team tick and work together.

The simple principle. If you can’t explain it to a 4 year old child, it’s too complicated. Make it simple, make it clear. Focus on where you want to go. Not where you don’t want to go. Then get on with it.

Caspar is a master of leadership and team building because he’s actually lived it in his life. He’s truly an adventurer who squeezes the juice out of life and has combined that with his skill in business to create a message that is truly unique.
— — Joe Williams (Tony Robbins Head Trainer for 20+ years)

Should you stop following the News?

So, its been just over 6 months since we completed sailing around the world. One of the things I reflect on was that for the 2 years ago, we were virtually in a news black out. When you’re at sea, you just don’t get any news unless you pick it up on the long range radio or someone emails you specifically to share anything. Did we lose out from it? I don’t think so at all. I don’t think there was any negative impact, only a positive impact from having a clear headspace.

I met last week with the Editor of a magazine who I knew from my Trovus days. She reminded me of an article that I wrote for one of my newsletters back in August 2011 on why I try not to listen or read the news.

As I found and re-read the article I realised that for the past 6 months I’ve become re-addicted to news. Whether it’s via a Facebook feed or online news sites, I’m regularly connected. Granted we have an exceptional time at the moment with President Trump and the regular news feed coming from America.

I’ve taken it as a note to myself to switch off the news and to follow the advice that I gave before. My full article from August 2011 is here:

I try not to listen or read the news any more and here’s why it helps our business

I used to think that it was essential that I was always up-to-date with the latest news. 

A year or so ago, I stopped, I realised it wasn’t good for me any longer. The Media has become incredibly and unremittingly negative. Perhaps it always had been, but I’d never noticed before. When you run a business I believe it’s important to have a positive outlook, be willing to invest and be confident about taking risks. Entrepreneurs and business owners can’t be negative or they wouldn’t be able to move forward.

If you listened to what the media pumped into your head every day about the 

economy, you’d give up and go hide under a rock. So I decided to stop listening to and watching the news. It’s about 6 months, maybe a year, since 

I last spent any of my valuable time consuming the news. I get enough news skimming the headlines at the newspaper stands or hearing the highlights discussed in the office.

Do I feel cut off from the world? Has my business suffered? No. I haven’t missed out on anything important. It seems that it’s the same old stories repackaged in different situations, month after month, year after year. Of course it’s still important for me to keep abreast of the coming marketing and 

business development trends so I do read extensively around this area and attend regular industry conferences & events; and that works for me because, thankfully the marketing & business development sector has a culture that doesn’t do negative.

Aside from the time that I have saved it really has made me feel more positive and entrepreneurial. So a news blackout has helped my business. We’ve invested and hired against the market trend. We’ve hired a business development director invested more in our systems, improved our processes, and are conducting a series of research work into benchmarking reports and C Level views on marketing trends and challenges.

So how do I find out what is happening in the market to help me make business decisions. Simple – I listen to my customers. I ask how their businesses are going, what their concerns are and what their plans are. I hear it without any filtering or ideological media bias built in – business owners are a very practical breed.

So my advice is, stop listening to the news – it’s very refreshing

Caspar’s story is simply inspirational!

I recently had the pleasure of seeing Caspar address an audience of over 800 technology channel people in Cannes, France. A mix of senior executives, managers, sales, marketing and techies, of which 3/4 were from outside the UK so English wasn’t their first language.

Despite the language barrier Caspar had them engaged for over an hour telling his story with purpose, vulnerability, humour and humility, making it relevant and demonstrating how the biggest of challenges can be overcome.

It just goes to demonstrate the power of a great story. Highly recommended for any business looking to grow its leadership teams
— Mark Waite - Managing Director at Tech PR & Marketing consultancy, Cohesive Communications