On 7 and 8 November Chris Budd, author of The Financial Wellbeing Book, spoke at the Personal Finance Society Festival of Financial Planning in Birmingham. The festival brings together over 3000 professionals from the world of personal finance for networking, workshops, and talks in Birminghamâs National Exhibition Centre.
Chris hosted a panel on how to help people make better decisions and also gave a talk on how a financial planner can use coaching skills to help clients clarify objectives. His talk was full of helpful advice for financial advisers on how to help their clients understand finance, by helping them create clear paths to their financial objectives.
Chris also drew from his book, The Financial Wellbeing Book, a practical and helpful guide to achieve financial peace of mind by understanding your objectives and motivations. It offers the readers respite from the anxiety and stress caused by money problems.
Chris helps train financial advisers to develop their coaching skills when working with clients.Â He is also the founder of Ovation Finance Ltd, a financial planning practice.
To hear more from Chris Budd, click here for his Financial Wellbeing podcast.
Books on the Underground began in 2012 and has now spread all over the world. Their Book Fairies are out and about every day leaving books on tube seats, in ticket areas, and at stations to get people back into reading.
The Strengths Book is a practical and succinct guide that aims to revolutionise your life by helping you to identify what exactly makes you happy so that you will make the right choices; decide whether a job, activity or course is right for you; and understand why things seem to flow with some activities and some people, and not others. Knowing these things about yourself, and spending more time on what really energizes and fulfills you â your strengths â will ultimately lead to a happier and more successful life.
Author Sally Bibb is a leading figure in the Strengths Movement and is the author of seven books. Sally works with a wide variety of people in strengths-based consultancy – from students to professionals.
If you see The Strengths Book on the London Underground this Friday, please have a read and then put back on the tube for another lucky reader, so they too can find their Strengths!
The Strengths Book is out now!
Seeing Around Corners author Graham Hogg shares his insights on the 3 gaps that teams need to close in order to build a data-driven culture.
‘The Bamiyan highway dissecting through the city of Kandahar in Afghanistan is mostly straight. Small bazars on either side of the road buzz with activity, with locals going about their business, mostly ignoring the presence of the British military convoys charging through on their daily routines. I recall the city having a distinct smell: wet dirt mixed with diesel from old truck engines that had seen better days, billowing smoke as they attempted to push and grind through the trafficâŠ
Kandahar was dominated by a low din of activity: honking car horns, tired engines crawling through traffic like old men, workers banging away at pieces of metal, people wrestling through their daily challenges. On that day, though, the roar of British Land Rovers added to the cacophony of noise, as they accelerated up and down the roads of the city. As the leader that day, I was fixed to the sound coming from my radio headset, doing my best to keep a gentle hand on the flow of the convoy and let my team do their job of getting us through safely. I recall having light conversations with my driver about everything from what was going on at the time, to friends and family back home, and getting to the end of the tour. It was a brief respite from the mayhem surrounding usâŠ’
During my military career on Operations in Afghanistan, Sierra Leone and the Arabian Gulf, it became very clear to me that the ability of leaders and teams to See Around Corners was of critical importance. Â In the midst of the volatility that we faced, foresight was the fuel of innovation and adaptability.
Post 9/11 and the global war on terror, we were faced with a new challenge, that of heightened complexity. Â In previous conflicts going back into history, the delineation between the âgood guys, bad guys and civiliansâ was much easier. Â We knew who the enemy was, what uniforms they wore, the tanks and weapons they used and even the type of communications equipment and tactics. Â In this era, we were able to gather deep levels of data on them that would inform a strategic decision-making process. Â Here, deep planning cycles and flawless execution was the theme of the day.
But in Afghanistan in 2006 this wasnât the case where we faced an environment of such complexity that this traditional paradigm fell short. Â In a world where a local businessman, tribal leader, insurgent and Military Officer were all closely connected, it was that of foresight and adaptability that enabled us to achieve our mission. Â Not running an operation at that time, in that area was often the best course of action.
Pulling triggers is hard, not pulling them is sometimes harder.
When I left the Royal Marines, went to business school and embarked upon a Â business career I saw teams experiencing the same challenges that we did. In the business world I found myself in, the focus was on efficiency and planning – align to a goal and then march towards it in a perfectly aligned way.
This I argue is born from a manufacturing mindset – a world of stability not complexity.
The ability for organisations to See Around Corners has never been more important. Â Today, billion dollar companies are losing market share to smaller start-ups – where a 17 year old girl can invent her own makeup brand from her bedroom, get 10,000+ followers on instagram and suddenly, the traditional power house of brands we know are being disrupted and losing market share. Â The same can be said for the craft beer movement and wider industry disruption.
The response to this has been often to create an innovation team or growth team where their mission is to âgo and find the new ideaâ. I have seen this first hand and itâs too slow, expensive and frankly doesn’t work. Â Or, employ a management consultancy to come in and redesign the organization and all the new process that follow, sometimes ironically causing more confusion.
This is all too slow for the fast moving business world leaders face today.
Instead, leaders need to commit to building an understanding of what is going on in their markets, how their products are being used and what their future customer groups are going to want.
This is where data is so important and the way that teams use it.
There are 3 gaps that teams need to close in order to achieve this and build a data-driven culture.
Cultural gaps – âfrom gut to gigabytesâ
Leaders need to move away from making decisions based on their gut and experience and start to pivot towards a data driven decision. Â The HiPPO (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion) in the room no longer holds true and leaders of teams now need to act more as a facilitator for the discussion where they can stage messy conversations to challenge each other and hypothesis. In this data-driven team, assumptions are challenged and team members (irrespective of rank or tenure) feel comfortable to challenge hypothesis and play devil’s advocate.
Cognitive gaps – âslow down to speed upâ
If teams are not clear on the business value they are trying to create and their specific mission then they have little chance of asking a good question to data. Â Clarity on whatâs important is where teams need to start and this is all about slowing down to think through what they need to understand to inform better decisions and drive value for their customers. Â Only then do you go to data. Â Outside-in-thinking or What if? analysis are simple and effective techniques to close these gaps on the important bits.
Semantic gaps – âwhat did you sayâŠ?!â
Teams need to industrialize a simple and common language as we start to see domain and analytics experts working together. Â Not mutually exclusive from the points above, to maximise the return on investing in data skills and technologies, if simple ways of working in day to day projects then that resource will not get maximum use. Â A simple language to close semantic gaps is where teams can start. We refer to our ADAPT Cycle here where decisions are leader led and data fed.
I get asked all the time by teams where to start and my answer is always the same. Â Put your team through a fun and engaging experience where they can see first-hand these behavioral and cultural challenges and equip them with simple tools and resources that they can then take back to the business and start using immediately in their meetings.
Do so, and you and your teams will be able to See Around Corners…
Seeing Around Corners is out on 30 November
Finding your Strengths with Sally Bibb
Last night LID celebrated the launch of Sally Bibb’sÂ The Strengths Book,Â the latest title in the best-selling Concise Advice Series.
The launch took place at the iconic Foyles Bookstore on Charing Cross Road with an audience of family, friends, colleagues, and clients.
After an introduction from Martin Liu of LID Publishing, Stefan Stern, ex-FT columnist and speaker, moderated a panel with Sally Bibb, teacher and Strengths Movement advocate Millie Townsend, and Iain Wilkie, Senior Partner at EY and Founder of Employers Stammering Network. The talks concluded with a speech from Sally.
The panel shared their views on the Strengths Movement in business, education and at home. Questions from the audience were predominantly on how young people can find and use theirÂ strengths to achieve happiness and fulfillment in higher education and when entering the working world.
After the talk, Sally joined guests for a book signing and photos in the photo booth!
Sally Bibb, Founder & Director of Engaging Minds is a leading figure in the Strengths Movement and is the author of seven books, including The Strengths Book.
The Strengths Book is out today! Order your copy here.
Naked Banking: The Truth About Banks And You is written by Steve Hogg, Paul Riseborough, and Karolina Morys, and is out on 5 October.
In this book we take you behind the veil of retail banking to explain how it really works. As industry insiders working for one of the UKâs highest profile new âchallengerâ banks we are perhaps uniquely placed to do so. We will show you why the big banks always seem to do the wrong thing: from designing products they know will rip customers o to cutting branches they know their customers rely on â over a thousand between 2015 and 2017 alone.
The story starts with the way banks are set up â their business models. Weighed down by lots of underutilized, poorly designed branches in the wrong places and creaking information technology infrastructure, banks have big bills to pay. To meet them and still make a good return for shareholders, banks have in recent years viewed âproduct innovationâ as the solution, developing more and more new products to deliver increased revenue to the bank. Simple products that everyone understands are now a thing of the past.
This is more than just a story of big banks and their product strategies. We will show you how individual customerÂ behaviour â the way we think and act when it comes to our personal finances â actually plays into the hands of the big banks. Product managers know customers have blind spots and biases and they develop products to take financial advantage of them. We will show you how they do it.
We will also give you a sense of what itâs like to be a product manager at a big bank â what they are asked to do, how they are rewarded, and the type of working environment they nd themselves operating in. As serving product managers we know better than most what the big banks are up to. And we reveal why the things product managers at the big banks are told to focus on â and which are important to them progressing in their careers â are often a million miles away from the things that matter to customers.
Sometimes you just want to know how to avoid tripping up when it comes to your nances and this book will help you in that regard too. We detail the specific product management strategies used by banks to part you from your money. Some are more obvious than others. Cutting the interest rate on your savings account a few months after you opened it is annoying but at least something you can understand. But what about inverse interest-rate tiers on your current account? Or ârepresentativeâ annual percentage rates (APRs) when you apply for a loan? The truth is that product managers have dreamt up every trick in the book to slowly â sometimes imperceptibly â earn more and more out of you. We thought it was about time someone documented what these tricks are, explained why product managers use them and pointed out what you can do to avoid them, or at least use them to your advantage.
Of course, itâs not just about avoiding the pitfalls. A question we get asked all the time is âhow do I get the best out of my banking, then?â Here we provide some pointers as to what you can do to organize your personal finances that little bit better. Some sensible steps, and a healthy dose of personal discipline, will allow most of us to bank in a way that is simple, understandable, and worry-free.
We also make some recommendations for things that banks could and should do to put customers first. From a potentially painful move away from the function of âfree bankingâ to taking more steps to ensure we all understand how products work, the opportunities for banks to become more transparent and customer focused are many indeed. We will show you how a new relationship based on a fair value exchange between banks and their customers could point to a brighter future for both.
The future doesnât stop there though. Retail banking is in a state of flux and there are reasons to believe that something more customer focused will emerge. From the promise of open banking, where personal banking data can be shared with other financial services companies to ensure products are better tailored to specific customer needs, to more thoughtfully designed services and processes, banks are starting to think more deeply about what customers want and need. is new dawn o ers banks the chance to build leaner, more agile organizations, better able to respond to customer demands and deliver new products and services quickly. Weâll take you through what we think it all means.
We decided to write this book because we believe that good banking is important. Important to start-up businesses needing advice on how to nance their growth. Important to young people learning how to better manage their money and save for their futures. Important for our economy and our society so that we can grow as a country and pay ourÂ way in the world. Yet the current state of affairs is not good enough. The big banks, almost without exception, have let us all down with their too-clever-by-half products and poor service cultures. The path to redemption starts with a clear-eyed view of what has gone wrong and this is our contribution to that debate.
Should you believe anything we say in this book? We are, after all, still working in the industry, albeit for a bank that is trying hard to change the status quo. Youâll be your own judge of that. Our aims for this book are modest: that you understand how banks work a bit better, grasp how the products they sell actually operate so you have a bit more money in your pocket, and that you reward the best banks â the banks putting customer service and simple products first â with your business, and not just the big banks. Because for all their gleaming headquarters, bumper pro ts, fancy adverts, and thousands of employees, it is you â the customer â who holds the key to better banking.
Naked Banking is out on 5 October.
In her new book, Read My Lips, Elaine Eksvard explores the different avenues of rhetoric, and how to get people to want to listen to you. Today weâre exploring Elaineâs idea of how music impacts almost everything we do, and how we can harness it to get our messages across to audiences. Check out the extract below for her take on how music influences rhetoric.
There is no doubt that music is powerful. It can move us to tears, or lift up oods within a few minutes. What is usually overlooked, however, is how we all are awash in, and influenced by, music. Film directors steer our emotions with the help of music. When you look at a film and suddenly become emotionally moved, you canât be entirely certain whether it was the music or what you saw that gave you that feeling. It can, of course, be a combination of the two, but the music strengthens the impressions. Magical, transporting films often manage to plant emotions without showing them. We âhearâ the feelings, but donât see or read them.
The effect is not limited to cinema and media in the slightest. The neurologist Oliver Sacks, who wrote the books âMusicophiliaâ, was of the opinion that music can have incredible effects on people with neurological conditions such as Parkinsonsâ, dementia, stroke, and aphasia. Music seems to have a unique ability to tap into inner abilities that people had lost. Part of the explanation for this is that the various components of music, such as rhythm, timbre, and beat, affect different parts of the brain. Since music triggers emotional as well as cognitive, autonomic and motor functions, it stimulates many parts of the brain.
In this way, music can also be used in the work environment. A meeting can be more or less successful, depending on the background music. You can use music strategically to create a mood that convinces the listener. It can create a feeling that you want to achieve and help lighten conversations. It is a powerful tool if you use it correctly.
Which music has the greatest effect? Is there a particular song that always works? No, but what affects us all similarly is the rhythm. But other emotions that are aroused are different. According to Ingrid Hammerlund, music therapist and teacher at the Royal College of Music, researchers today agree that the music that is most effective, medically and psychologically, is that which you choose yourself.
Ultimately you have to think about what you want to say with the music you choose, and what feelings do you want to convey. Try to use music strategically and carefully, to arouse the right feelings in the person or people you are going to meet. Think about the tempo in the music, but also the age, background, and musical taste of the listeners.
Read My LipsÂ by Elaine is out on 21 September
Presenting is a key part of any job, whether youâre dressing for that interview, or presenting a report to colleagues. Despite âpresentingâ being fundamental to many jobs, a lot of people find it daunting. To help those of us who struggle with this, Emma Serlin, Director and Founder of London Speech Workshops has written a âhow-toâ guide in communicating more effectively in 50 easy steps. Hereâs a taster below:
The fundamental building blocks of any good presentation are the writing, and the physical delivery. The writing should be powerful, engaging, and should get the point across fluently and succinctly. The physical delivery should feel fresh, alive, and full of energy.
Start with your objective. To avoid waffling and going off topic, clearly define the objective of your presentation beforehand. Think about the effect you want to have on your audience. Do you want them to come away feeling inspired? Delighted? Motivated? Every slide or point should clearly refer back to the objective.
A good structure is key. The most straightforward and fool proof example is the sequence: problem, solution, evidence, summary.
Enrich the story of your presentation by connecting with your audience; infuse your presentation storyline with a palpable sense of emotion and humanity.
The physical appearance of the presentation is essential. First impressions count, so make the most of this by holding your shoulders back your head upright, and your chin level as you âtake to the stageâ. A good way to stay calm as you begin is to take a moment to absorb the space. It will ground you, let the audience see you, and you see them. Itâs a small thing, but will also help to connect with the audience.
Eye contact is the best way to connect whilst speaking. However, a lot of people get this wrong by looking up at the wrong point. The place for âqualityâ eye contact is the final few words of the sentence or important point. Here, hold the gaze for a moment, as if you are checking with the audience to confirm that they have received your message. They will start to feel as though you really care.
Answering questions after a presentation can also be nerve-wracking. Always take a moment to acknowledge and compliment the question â it makes people feel recognized. It also helps ensure that the entire audience is involved, which will keep everyone focused and engaged.
The main thing to remember through all of this is to relax! Youâve got this!
Read more great tips from Emma Serlin in The Connection Book, out 14 September.
LID author Matt Stephens gives his take on the simplicity of successful leadership.
âBut weâve told them a thousand timesâŠ.â or words to that effect. We hear this a lot from exasperated executive teams when we give them Heartbeat results saying that people donât know the organisationâs strategy.
Senior leaders are very close to the strategy and have worked long and hard on getting it right. But this can often be a handicap when it comes to explaining it, and getting others fired up and excited. We help by giving an external perspective and asking the âdumbâ questions which can keep it simple. In doing this, we have found 5 key things which help:
1. Develop a simple narrative – technical language, management speak, and complex sentences turn people off. On the other hand, most of us respond to stories and find day to day language accessible. We have helped organisations express their strategy through a story with a series of key chapters which take people through the challenges the organization faces, why itâs important to tackle them, what it plans to do, what this means for people working there, why itâs exciting and the benefits of success. All the way through, itâs important to keep it conversational, using everyday language. Any hint of complexity can give people licence to switch off.
2. Senior leaders need to show the way â the top team have huge influence. If they present the strategic narrative to other tiers of leaders, it can have a big impact on how they then do things. This is especially the case if the top team can bring parts of the narrative to life using their own stories and experiences.
3. Equip team leaders to share the narrative locally â seeing the top team present the strategy differently will be a strong encouragement to other leaders to do the same. Often, though, they need help to adopt a similar approach themselves. We have found giving team leaders a clear, step by step structured guide helps a lot. We call it Talking Points and it lays out key messages, questions to ask, exercises and activities.
4. Help people to share their own stories â as well as understanding what the strategy is, people need to see ongoing evidence that it is being followed, and having an impact. Updates from senior people can only go so far. What really keeps people engaged is a regular stream of stories which show real people doing real jobs applying the strategy and making it work. We equip local leaders to help their teams identify a story which will have impact and use Heartbeat as a simple mechanism for them to share them.
5. Keeping it going â strategies need to be living things. To have impact, they must be talked about regularly, and other messages should be linked with it so people get a sense of coherence and progress. Having a simple and clear narrative makes this easier by giving straightforward messages which can be repeated and reflected in other communications â it becomes a consistent point of reference.
Matt Stephens’ bookÂ Revolution in a HeartbeatÂ is out on 14 September.
As the saying goes, âeveryone has a book in themâ. But the writing of the book is the hardest part of sharing ideas, especially when the endeavour is close to your heart.
However, help is at hand! LID author Neil Usher, whose book will be released in March 2018 has written about the writing process from his experience of writing his new book, âThe Elemental Workplaceâ.
Check out an extract below, or to read to full blog, click here.
Ink in the well by Neil Usher
The lights of the ashes smoulder through hills and vales
Nostalgia burns in the hearts of the strongest
Picasso is painting the ships in the harbour
The wind and sails
These are years with a genius for living
I havenât posted anything for a while because I have been writing a book on theÂ Elemental Workplace. Itâs finished and will be coming out next Spring. It takes about six months from this stage to being on the shelves. Itâs been an amazing experience, and so for would-be writers here are a few thoughts on the experience, shared partly as a means of getting back into the shortform.
Starting is easy. After that coffee, of course. Itâs a little later that it becomes a struggle, after the initial headrush clears, when there is enough down to make it look like youâve achieved something, but a more expansive void ahead that needs to be filled. For so long, it seems as though you are not yetÂ half-way through, that there is more to travel than you had just trod.
From the very first sentence, you canât shut down. You live inside it. Forget writing anything else, especially a blog, itâs searing jealousy wonât let you.
You start off in charge of The Book, and at a certain point that when looking back you canât recall, it takes over. From Master, you become Servant. It gives the orders. When you try and regain control it just ignores you.
Thereafter Book as it becomes known to you and those around you takes on a personality of its own. It lives with you, drinks your coffee, eats your lunch, falls asleep on your sofa. It doesnât leave, or understand that a welcome only last so long.
The completion of the first end-to-end draft is an amazing feeling, like tumbling across the finish line with a last breath, joyous. Only to be told that it wasnât quick enough, your style was awkward, your rhythm was erratic and you need to run back again.
When you finally pluck up the courage to re-read what youâve written, you wonder who the hell wrote it. For a while you are uncomfortably inseparable strangers. It takes a while, several iterations, for it to become yours. The first edit is without doubt harder than the first draft.
There is nothing âinstant-gratificationâ about it. This is old-school work. The internet might aid quick fact-checking, each of which of course needs to be re-checked because the sources can be a bit flaky, and the word processor might offer some additional wiggly lines to suggest brevity, but you have to write every single word yourself. Albeit my Mum did ask me if I wrote the first draft by hand.
You live in fear of misquoting or not crediting the right people. You wonder, did I hear that particular idea somewhere, is that my thought or did I scoop it out of one of the puddles that stipple the roads youâve hurried down in the dark, where the streetlamps werenât working, never there the next day.
If youâve ever taken a psychometric or an aptitude test, youâll know that itâs quite easy to feel categorized and filed away, trapped by the constraints of the results. Sally Bibb of Engaging Minds has torn down these restrictions with her book, The Strengths Book, which helps readers to find their strengths and find how they can make the most of doing what they enjoy.
Strengths are the specific things that you do really well, and that you love doing. These simply canât be measured in psychometric or aptitude tests. So, for example, a personality test might tell you that youâre conscientious. What it canât tell you is whether you have a specific strength in organising things to create order. Think of it this way: a psychometric test tells you about skill, and a strengths assessment tells you about will.
The tricky part is finding what your strengths are. Using techniques from The Strengths Book, we can reveal the key questions to ask yourself when youâre trying to find your strengths.
What did I do recently that I really loved doing and energized me?
Think of as many activities as you can.
âI had a great call with a new client about the website Iâm building for him, and they loved some new ideas I showed them. I punched the air afterwards!â
What is it about me that makes me love those things so much?
âI like sharing my creative ideas and seeing my client excited about them.â
âI like feeling Iâm doing a good job and that my creative work is appreciated.â
Think about all the strengths you answered for the questions above and choose three that give you the biggest buzz.
âIâm good at keeping projects on track because Iâm organised and conscientious.â
âIâm good at explaining/sharing/teaching my ideas.â
From answering these questions you can build up a Strengths Profile which you can use both personally and professionally.
Using these initial questions, anyone can build up their strengths. One clue in discovering our strengths is to know that they are usually the things that we love to do. Think of things that give you a buzz, that you look forward to doing, that energize you, that you always check off your to-do list first.
Ask yourself, what made you enjoy doing this?
Ask yourself, what that was like?
You have now begun to find your strengths.
The Strengths Book is out on 26 October.