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Category: Business

There are SO many things that you could be doing to grow your business, but only 24 hours in a day. So how do you decide which ideas will make the most difference to your bottom line? And how do you get results – fast? Tune in to Idea Time for tools, tips and interviews to find out how

February 13, 2020

How to Create Innovation Culture with Mark Brown

This podcast is all about innovation culture, and I am really pleased to welcome Mark Brown. Mark is Chief Executive of the Dolphin Index, a business that helps individuals and teams be more creative and shape more successful workplaces. Mark is also a published author on innovation and a real superstar in the innovation world.


Mark explains how he is particularly interested in the work that referred to The Three Principles, which is a sort of DIY guide to having a quieter mind at work. He thinks that if you look at a lot of businesses it’s actually unhelpful to have a busy, rushing mind all the time.  Mark shares that by being a bit quieter and more centred, people actually perform better, make better decisions and are more creative.


Mark shares his first memory of being interested in innovation. He says: “When I try to go back the story, I probably go back to age 18, when I remember standing by a particular gate at a house we had in Wales, and making a decision that went along the lines of, I am not going to believe anything, because so often when you believe something, people seem to become too certain and stuck. So, I sort of made my first vow, to try to think openly, but of course, what I didn’t realise, is the decision not to believe anything was in itself a fixed mindset, so I was already caught in my own dogma! I’ve got a dogmatic dislike of dogma, and that may have something to do with my family. That was one angle. Some people seem to be more open, and some people a bit more closed.”


Mark explains that in many jobs he thinks it is now possible for people to have really quite brilliant lives at work because they are deeply engaged, in a way that drives a brilliant organisation and helps to create a more brilliant world.


He references Daniel Pink’s book, called Drive, which is a summary of the research on motivation that shows clearly that if you give people autonomy, an opportunity to learn, and a purpose larger than profit, they really are unstoppable.


In our discussion, Mark also mentions Kelly’s Repertory Grid, a tool that helps us to see the 'personal constructs' which we use to view the world. Everyone has their own unique model.


To contact Mark, his website is www.dolphinindex.org or email mark@dolphinindex.org.


February 13, 2020

Leading Innovation with Phil Marsland

This podcast is all about leading innovation, and I am really pleased to be joined by Phil Marsland, founder and director of Blue Tree Consulting.

 We talk about one of my favourite books, The Writer’s Map by Huw Lewis-Jones, before discussing Phil’s leadership expertise. Phil says:

“I have got all the certificates, the bells and whistles, however, through my experience, what I have learnt is that you need to be pragmatic, in terms of what organisations need. So, part of how I have positioned my business is just under four words. It is listening, diagnosing, creating and implementing. So, what those 4 words say is that I will endeavour to really listen, and really understand, what is going on in an organisation, and I will conduct both bespoke psychometric tests, as well as my structured diagnostic process, to come up with a picture of what is happening in the organisation. In sharing that I will offer to create solutions that might be to improve leadership capability, perhaps management, and more generally, the overall culture of the business, and then through myself and a number of associates we will implement the appropriate solutions...Really one size fits none. You need to understand each organisation and come up with solutions that fit and work for them. 

Phil tells us about his business, Blue Tree Consulting, and how he came up with the name and metaphor. He says: “I think my business, as you kindly introduced at the start is called Blue Tree Consulting, and that is a metaphor for my beliefs about business really. So, the roots of the tree are really the organisational purpose. The strength of the trunk is really the leadership capability. Then as you move into the lower boughs, that is all about your whole approach to people. You can put the HR badge onto it if you want, but it is really about how we are treating people in our business. Then as you move up into the leaf canopy, you are looking at growing management capability, for managing not just process and performance, but also individuals, and around all of that is your people capability. Now the reason why it’s a tree is not just because I like trees, which I do, is it conveys to me that whole sense of working as one unit, and everything being aligned. So, one of my beliefs that I really push with my clients is that whatever you do, whether it is growing leadership capability, or training managers how to do a disciplinary, or identifying talent, all that has to be aligned to your organisational purpose.”Before making the leap to set up his own business, Phil was Head of HR at Portakabin. He shares his tips and advice for moving from a corporate job to self-employment. His recommendations include these words of advice:“Try and create a network of support around yourself, whether that is through associates, mentors, you know, to help you along the way, people who have made this journey, people who can give you real pragmatic advice, sometimes emotional support.I certainly felt I had to figure out how much money I needed to earn, what sort of buffer amount of cash that I had, how long that was going to last, and how things were going to work from a financial point of view, in a worst case scenario, but in a best case scenario as well." Thank you very much, Phil, for a great conversation. I really enjoyed spending time with you on my Idea Time podcast.

December 13, 2019

How to accelerate and sustain profitable business growth - Paul Slater

Paul Slater, Founder and Director of leading business growth consultancy brands The Growth Shed and The Change Shed joins me on my Idea Time  - www.ideatime.co.uk  - podcast to discuss how businesses can achieve compound growth by combining key initiatives in specifically targeted areas.

Big company thinking adapted for small companies


Paul has led change and growth initiatives as a consultant working for brands such as Velux, Oakley and Estee Lauder. He has taken his recipe for success and adapted it to help small to medium sized businesses accelerate and sustain profitable growth, in a way that combines just the right level of structure with time-efficient, pragmatic diagnosis and action planning to create an individually tailored roadmap for every company he works with.


Compound effect

Paul helps businesses to achieve great results from compounding initiatives – 2 or 3 carefully targeted plans implemented simultaneously generate much higher levels of success than when they are each actioned one at a time.

Keeping up with change and development


Paul works with his clients to help them keep up with changes and developments in growth and marketing and shares his tips for success. These tips include being really clear about change leadership, and we had a great conversation about leaders using their emotional intelligence to help people through the change curve.

If you have any questions and want to get in touch with Paul, you can email him at paul@thegrowthshed.com.

December 13, 2019

Going the Distance with Apps - Anthony Main

Anthony Main, Founder and Director of one of the UK’s top UK mobile app development companies, The Distance, joins me on my Idea Time  - www.ideatime.co.uk  - podcast to talk apps, business growth, entrepreneurship and  more.

The Distance specialises in creating intuitive bespoke mobile solutions for their customers on iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.

The company is one of the longest serving UK app developers, having celebrated its 10th birthday this year. Anthony and his team have been crafting apps since the first iPhone launched. Over the many years they have worked with a wide range of brands from household names to global enterprises and has outstanding Clutch reviews – Clutch is like the TripAdvisor for apps.

Starting as a side hustle (before side hustle was a thing!)

Anthony worked in digital agencies and started working on his own projects in the evenings and at weekends. Demand for his services grew and he set up a small team working from his garage. Since then the business has gone from strength to strength and now employs around 20 people, all based in York in the UK.

Ingredients of Success

Anthony shares how his business success is down to the key ingredients of resilience, being very thick skinned, working hard, staying focused and a non-negotiable emphasis on customer service excellence.

He also shares how investing in his own leadership and entrepreneurship development, plus the support of a close network of like-minded entrepreneurs in different sectors have helped him to grow the business.

Thinking of an App for Your Business?

Anthony shares his honest and invaluable top tips for you if you’re thinking of developing an app for your own business. He also strongly recommends the book How to Build a Billion Dollar App, by George Berkowski.


December 13, 2019

May King Tsang, The #FOMO Creator – How to create #FOMO for your events

May King Tsang, the #FOMO creator, joins me on my Idea Time  - www.ideatime.co.uk  - podcast to talk about events, Twitter and getting genuine engagement on social media.

She shares how she creates buzz and excitement around events for delegates and people who are thinking about buying tickets in the future.

May King started by live tweeting and then approached social media superstars and creatives Andrew and Pete to help them promote their Atomicon conference, to include Instagram and Facebook as well as Twitter. Her results spoke for themselves and since then she has been working with other influencers such as Janet Murray, for major festivals and more, making a quantifiable difference.

Every ‘No’ is a Step Towards an Incredible ‘Yes’

We talk about pitching, the fear of hearing ‘no’, imposter syndrome and May King shares her tips on how to overcome it.

She reflects on her successes and failures, her fear of rejection and now she believes that every no leads to the next, incredible yes. She bounced back from a short series of knock backs and has come back stronger. There is no failure, only learning and resilience is key when you’re growing a business, as is hanging out with like-minded souls. May King says that we are in business to make an impact, and that helps to not make any rejection or failure about you.

Top Twitter Tips for Business

May King’s top Twitter tip is to listen, engage and not to sell. Social media marketing has really changed how businesses need to approach sales, as customers now have greater power and more freedom to choose.

It’s important to get involved in conversations, and really engage with chats and events rather than just spend time ‘lurking’. Also ‘documenting’ any events you attend, using the event hashtag, also leads to new contacts and opportunities.

May King says that Twitter is possibly the most misunderstood of all the social media platforms, but if you create a list and focus on the people and themes that interest you, Twitter can be really useful for business.

The #FOMO Process

May King explains how she creates pre-FOMO as well as live FOMO for a podcast conference in the north, culminating in a movement and community of delegates, and amplifying the voices of the podcasters attending. Facebook groups featuring content such as delegate video interviews before the event help people to get to know each other in advance. On the event day itself, May King provides live interviews and social media coverage across different platforms. Her content is real, showcasing the real vibe rather than a polished, less authentic version of events.


Writing a Book

We give a shout out to Tim Lewis from Stoneham Press who has been mentoring May King in the creation of her book – from May King Mistakes, to May King it Happen, and discuss May King’s book-in-progress and the forthcoming launch of my Idea Time book.

If you have any questions and want to get in touch with May King, you can contact her on any social platform - she’s May King Tsang or May King T and easy to find on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook.

December 13, 2019

Andrew Palmer – Gravitas, presence and authenticity.

Andrew Palmer, Founder and Director of leading communications consultancy The Gravitas Matrix, joins me on my Idea Time podcast to discuss how he left a senior corporate role to tap into his entrepreneurial ideas and start his own successful business.

Self-confidence to build your authentic personal brand


Andrew helps business leaders and entrepreneurs to stand out in a crowded and competitive market, leading to significant performance improvements by increasing confidence, impact and authority.

On this podcast we have a great conversation about how to build your self-confidence and skills in networking, video and on-stage presentation to promote your personal brand and increase visibility, enabling you to maintain your competitive edge through a compelling narrative.


Trust and authenticity


We discuss the key ingredients of trust in business relationships: credibility, reliability, openness, and a genuine desire for a win-win solution, and the important role of authentic personal branding when it comes to trust.

Keeping up with change and development


Andrew works with his clients to help them keep up with changes and developments in social media – including video – and shares his top tips for video success. These tips include being really clear about what you want to say and why; making audio and good lighting (natural daylight is fine) a priority; the importance of practising.

Idea Time – Andrew’s Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal

Andrew is a member of my Idea Time Academy. One of his big, hairy, audacious goals (BHAGs) was to successfully transition from a corporate senior leadership role to founder and director of his own thriving business. 

He explains how the Idea Time programme helped him to make the leap by truly seeing the potential and possibilities.

If you have any questions and want to get in touch with Andrew, you can email him at Andrew.palmer@thegravitasmatrix.com.

Andrew tells us lots more in the podcast. Have a listen for yourself and let me know what you think.

What a great podcast – thanks Andrew!

And if you’d like to content me direct, please email me at jo@ideatime.co.uk. Thank you for listening!

August 21, 2019

Dr. Jo North’s Idea Time - with Andy Firth from Ascensor

Andy joins Dr. Jo North on her Idea Time podcast to discuss; his business, his BHAG and his experience with Idea Time.

The danger of not changing your updating your strategy in an ever-changing, unpredictable world

Businesses need to be agile and dynamic to move forward, whether it be with consumer demand, technological advances or Industry 4.0. 

At the start of Andy’s career after leaving university with a degree in Product Design Management, he started working for an engineering firm in Leeds. The firm paid for Andy to invest in his management training, where he completed an MBA over 3.5 years. Even though the company paid for his training, they weren’t ready to take his advice and make changes, throughout management and lower level parts of the organisation. Andy had all this new knowledge and they just weren’t ready to listen to him. He had so much energy, enthusiasm and drive and wanted to make use of it, so Andy left to work for his friend who owned a design and print business. 

The engineering business that Andy used to work for has since been reduced in size, and doing the opposite of growing – this is what can and will happen if businesses don’t keep up to date with new innovations and change their strategy with the ever-changing, unpredictable world.

Starting his own business

Whilst working for design and print business, Andy and his friend noticed a gap in an expanding and fast developing market – website development. Andy worked for this business for 7 years before deciding to break free and start something of his own – Ascensor. 

Andy started Ascensor nearly 12 years ago. Today, as Andy says, “they build everything, as long as it’s online”, such as bespoke software development, all aspects of digital marketing, driving traffic towards websites etc. – Andy is a strong believer it doesn’t matter how good your website is, if nobody finds it then it is of no benefit. 

Keeping up with change and development

Ascensor are at the forefront of change. As a digital marketing agency, they are always being asked for the latest things and this is so exciting. They get to work with different types of businesses across different sectors and are learning something new every day. 

Turning your side hustle into your full-time job

Andy talks about how doing something you love is important. You need to be passionate enough about a topic to constantly want to learn new advances and get ahead of the game. Making your side hustle your full-time job requires time, effort and dedication. Andy then goes on to explain how Ascensor have recently reached a new peak of expansion. 

Idea Time – Andy’s BHAG

This is where Idea Time comes in. Andy’s big, hairy, audacious goal was to move into new office building by September 2019 – something that they are on track with, as they are currently working on the legal contracts for the big move. 

Andy explains that working with Jo helped him to make the leap, as when he mapped out the pros and cons of the move, it made him realise that standing still was more of a risk to the business than making the move. He said that “just by having the confidence, everything has just fallen into place.” Andy is now having the “best months, month after month” and says it is all because Idea Time made him realise that “it is so important to take the time out to focus on the business and yourself”. It’s essential to “really thinking about the things that matter, and, by doing that, often doors open that you didn’t expect”.

How businesses can get the most out of working with a digital marketing agency

Andy explains how it is important that customers understand the time that it takes to develop software that works with the expanding list of appliances that use the internet, from the obvious ones such as computers and mobiles to the probably less expected, fridges and washing machines. 

Customers have to understand that time is money and if we are designing software that is specifically unique to both their business and an appliance that we haven’t worked with before, it is going to cost more than designing an app for a phone or tablet. Personally, I love the complex jobs as it gets me thinking and learning new things! 

The other thing that businesses need to understand is that we need quality images to work with. Images are really important on websites as they create the first impression. Andy explains the issue with slow loading websites, which have poor quality images, that are not accessible on a phone, and how these types of websites will do more harm than good for a business. 

A website is like a shop window for a business – it’s somewhere where customers will do due diligence on you. For a small investment on some good quality photography and getting the content and copyrighting right, and also having one of our websites (which is extremely cost effective from a bill perspective) and some sort of digital marketing to go with it, is the way for a business to get, certainly on a smaller level, a really good quality, but cost effective website. 

Free starter guide

Andy has created a free starter guides which you can download from www.airwebsites.co.uk. The guides are on there as well as range of various packages at different price points. 

The guides are as below:

  • Essentials Guide: covers everything about Air Websites; what they are, the benefits, and how the process works
  • Google Ads Guide: provides you with tips and hints for setting up ad campaigns, and how to get optimal return on your budget
  • Local SEO Guide: explains how you can grow your business, by optimising your website for local search results.

There are over 100 case studies on the website for you to have a look through, so you can see different types of templates that are available. 

If you have any questions and want to get in touch with Andy, you can email him at andrew@ascensor.co.uk

Andy tells us lots more in the podcast, but I don’t want to give too much away. Have a listen for yourself and let me know what you think at jo@ideatime.co.uk

What a great podcast – thanks Andy!