Andrew Selley has over 30 years of business experience, more than 20 of them at board level. He is currently the CEO of a £multi-billion food company, Bidcorp UK, Author of Ignite Your Business and joins us to share his secrets and hacks of how leaders of underperforming businesses can engage their teams and explode their profit. In this episode you can learn about:
- Andrews IGNITE model engage your team
- How to galvanize your team into action
- Why you can never over communicate as a leader
- Build “red lines” in terms of what you will do and won’t do
Transcript:Thanks to Jermaine Pinto at JRP Transcribing for being our Partner. Contact Jermaine via LinkedIn or via his site JRP Transcribing Services
The Leadership Hacker News
Steve Rush: Big brands have figured out how to gain attention and make themselves stand out from others. So, what can we learn from them to grow our own personal brand? Interestingly research by Duke University found big brands are so powerful and compelling commitment. They can influence happiness in marriages and partnerships. And when you have to live with your partner’s brand choices, it can even reduce happiness, if you don’t share the same passion.
Brand credibility is also important. A study about perceptions of value is really intriguing. Research at the University of Bond discovered when people thought wine was expensive, they rated it significantly better than when they thought the price was cheap or lower. We can learn from this too. When people perceive your value, there will be more likely to remember you and to select you for all kinds of opportunities. From the research I’ve distilled three top ways, which we can leverage the corporate approach.
Number one, be gravitational. First, create emotional connections based on rapport. One of the key skills for the future of work will be the ability for us to build relationships more deeply, more quickly, often through virtual means. Positivity is a magnet. We want to be around others who create that positive vibe. Listen to others, tune in and invest in learning about them. Building your brand is ironically less about you and more about others, demonstrate humidity and avoid arrogance, be gravitational and draw people to you and genuinely support others.
Research finds people, select companies and brands based on how much they can also contribute to communities. And who demonstrate that social conscience, personal brandings like this too. It’s not all about you. It’s often about how you enter into relationships with others and how you can help care for them.
Number two, be brave. Sometimes it can be really hard for us to put ourselves out there, but effectiveness in personal branding requires you to speak up, to take a stand, to move forward and be confident. The most successful brands are visible and memorable because they do put themselves out there. For people, the phrase, fake it until you make it, is quite apt here. You may not have all of the things figured out yet. You may not have all of the self-surety you need to keep that momentum going. Worry less about perfection and focus on making progress. The best opportunities come from taking those steps into areas that we don’t know about. Staying open to opportunities and possibilities, and that learning new can really be quite alluring. Jump into the project for which you are mostly but not fully prepared for. And in doing so, you can develop your own skills along the way and consider saying to yourself, step up, step out and step forward.
Number three, be substantive. Building your personal brand must always include substance and reliability. Be sure you’ve got something to offer in terms of your skills and your talents. Seek to learn and develop yourself constantly for sure. Your best personal brand will be built based on the value you had to others and how you bring it to your best and your team. We’ve all worked with people who may talk a good game, but actually don’t deliver. These people tend to be the ones who float from job to job or company to company because those around them figure them out.
Successful brands deliver value time after time consistently. And your personal brand is like this as well. Be the person who rolls their sleeves up and follows through. Others can always count on to deliver that quality work. The one who maintains their relationships over time. And when you do your benefit from a really strong network and solid lasting connections that you’ll be able to rely on for years. So, in summary, your success will be based on the relationships and meaningful interactions you have with others. And there is no formula for personal branding, but it’s merely a mindset to help appreciate others, invest in relationships and be your personal best. And this approach will ultimately elevate your brand and get you noticed. That’s been Leadership Hacker News. If you have stories, insights or information from anywhere in the world, please get in touch with us.
Start of Podcast
Steve Rush: Our special guest on today’s show is Andrew Selley. He is a proven and successful high-impact business leader. He’s a CEO of Bidcorp UK, a multi-billion-pound company. And after 30 years, in lots of different sectors and businesses, 20 years’ operating at board level, has now written the book, Ignite Your Business. Andrew, welcome to The Leadership Hacker Podcast.
Andrew Selley: Thanks for having me on.
Steve Rush: It’s my pleasure. Really excited to get into the whole principle of Igniting Your Business. Stories, of course, that you’ve shared, in your book, but experience of the last 30 years which I’m looking to hack into from now. So perhaps before we get into that, you can just give us a little bit of the backstory as to how you’ve arrived in what you are doing?
Andrew Selley: I started my career sort of, as you say, 30 years ago, it doesn’t seem that long to me, but 30 years ago at Coca Cola in the UK, it was on the bottling side of the business, not the brand owner side. So, we were the bottler and distributor for Coke. It was a very fast-growing business. Just as I joined, they switched over from bottling and selling Pepsi to bottling and selling Coke, which was interesting both from an organization and cultural perspective, but also because it meant overnight the business was four times bigger than it was previously. So, I think there was just a lot of opportunity there. And I worked in a lot of different departments and I sort of moved from sort of graduate trainee through to sales director in 10 years and left after 12 years to move across to Bidcorp.
And I think unusually people would say I’ve been there for over 20 years, which I think is probably unusual in this day and age. But I think the reason is I keep getting opportunities there that challenged me and excite me and reward me. So, you know, over the time that I’ve been there, I’ve run the food logistics business, you know, doing all the daily food supplies for Burger King, KFC, Pizza Hut and all those big brands. I’ve run the military supply chain business where we did all the worldwide food supply for the armed forces. So, we had to set up and operate depots in Afghanistan and Iraq and Sierra Leone, et cetera. I established our business in the Middle East and the Baltics and Spain. And then for the last seven years I’ve been running our sort of core hospitality business in the UK where we supply all types of food, both packaged down fresh and beers, wines, and spirits and non-food and everything to the hospitality industry. So, we turn over about 2 billion pounds. We’ve got about 6,000 employees. We’ve got about 60,000 customers in the hospitality sector in the UK.
Steve Rush: Yeah, good business.
Andrew Selley: Quiet a challenging year.
Steve Rush: I can imagine. Yeah, I’d love to get into it. You are what I would call the archetype of entrepreneurship. Often people have this perception that in order to become a great leader, you’ve got to bounce between businesses and you are a perfect example of taking all of those natural caring opportunities that are presented in the environment you’re in. And now you’re leading a really large and successful business too.
Andrew Selley: The business Bidcorp, it’s a global business. We operate in sort of 36 different countries around the world. And each country just operates as its own individual business. And the sort of authority and autonomy is decentralized down. And that’s the culture that we then take within our business. So, we pushed down sort of responsibility and encourage, as you say, entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship of the people who work for us, because that’s what makes I think the business and the culture more interesting and exciting. And you get a different type of person, who wants that responsibility and that challenge
Steve Rush: Hmm, indeed. Now I would imagine that given the environment you’re in and given the organization you lead. The last 18 months or so has been a particularly challenging one, how has that changed the focus of what you’re doing with Bidcorp?
Andrew Selley: Changed the focus. It’s certainly changed a lot of what we do. As I say, as a supplier to hospitality. During the last 12 months of COVID, our businesses has really gone on a bit of a roller coaster. So, when we had the first lockdown, our business declined by 70%, that’s seven zero in a week which is obviously a bit of a challenge. We’ve had certain bits of the business which have kept going. So, we do supply food, et cetera, to hospitals and care homes and schools and prisons, but obviously all of the supply to restaurants, hotels, nightclubs, theme parks travel and leisure outlets all stopped as well. So, I think as the sort of the leader of the business, your focus doesn’t necessarily change insofar as, you know, your focus is always on, you know, strategy, development and execution, you know, managing and developing and caring for the team, looking for how you’re going to invest in the business, going forwards. You’re dealing with big customers, big suppliers, et cetera, so that hasn’t necessarily changed, but clearly our strategy and approach and what we’ve actually executed over the last 12 months has changed quite a lot.
Steve Rush: I can, well imagine. We’re going to get into actually how your ignite model has helped you in your business because you actually use it as a case study in your book, but we’ll come back to that in a moment. What would be really interesting is just to get a sense of, you know, how did the book come up? What was the kind of inspiration for you?
Andrew Selley: I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I’ve spent a lot of my time trying to develop myself over the years. I’ve always had a keen interest, as I know that you have as well, in terms of reading business books, broadening my knowledge, trying to learn you new ideas and new initiatives. Found that 40-50% of the books that I’ve read were just totally dry. And I probably didn’t even finish them. They were quite theoretical. It was almost like doing a business studies degree instead of reading an education and motivational book. And I suppose, you know, with a little bit of arrogance, I thought maybe I could do better or do different, or make a book that was easier to read and more practical in terms of its application. Something that you could read and do, something with straight away rather than read and try and work out what they were talking about.
And also, a book that you could just dip into. You can read it as a whole thing, or you could just dip into a specific area where you need some help or you’ve got an issue. So, yeah, it was probably three years ago. I started writing it and mapping it out and started off really enthusiastic and bashed out the skeleton and then just added to it over the next couple of years. But when lockdown did arrive, clearly there was a lot less commuting because we’re working from home a lot at the time. I used to do quite a lot of international travel within the sort of the Bidcorp Group, which obviously disappeared. So, I thought, you know, I can either watch a load of Netflix box set or I can actually just get this book finished. So, I decided to get it finished and get it published and get it out there.
Steve Rush: Excellent, and congratulations by the way, I’ve read the book. And one of the things that struck me when I read it is, how absolutely practical it is. So, you’ve got a sense of a story that you tell through Terra Nova, interestingly, is Terra Nova real business? Is that a kind of a guise of a, another business maybe you’ve worked alongside?
Andrew Selley: It’s a made-up name.
Steve Rush: Oh, interesting.
Andrew Selley: The one-minute manager, there is books that he did.
Steve Rush: Yeah.
Andrew Selley: Because they were sort of, you know, an allegorical sort of approach to business. So, it’s told through a story and I sort of found that no matter how many times you try to find an example in business for the point you were making. It wasn’t always exactly backing up the point you were making. So, I thought I’d actually write my own story alongside it and sort of integrate the points that I was trying to make into that story, which as, you know, sort of shows the right way and the wrong way of doing the elements that covered in each chapter.
Steve Rush: What I particularly liked about it is, you kind of take people a little bit for story. Then you give them the sense check and you get them to do some reflection on their own business. And here’s some tools as well. So, it’s a real practical playbook all the way through each of the steps of the model. So, let’s just spin through what Ignite and the Ignite model means. And maybe we can get into some of those sections as we get through it?
Andrew Selley: Yeah, certainly. I do like an acronym.
Steve Rush: Exactly.
Andrew Selley: So, IGNITE is an acronym and the I stand for inspirational vision. And I think there’s two points to that. Firstly, you know, you need to know where you’re going. If you’re leading a business or legit, even just leading a team, you need to have a vision of what it is you’re trying to do and what your purpose is, et cetera. But I think the bit that people often miss out is the inspirational bit.
Steve Rush: I agree.
Andrew Selley: It’s got to be something that engages people’s emotions and makes them want to contribute and makes them want to do that extra minute or extra mile and make that extra effort. So having something that engages people’s emotions rather than just something that they intellectually understand, I think is important. So that’s the whole bit around inspirational vision and values of what the business stands for.
Steve Rush: What I’ve found in having worked with lots of different clients and businesses, where they spend quite a little bit of time on the vision. They miss that inspirational bit, which is dead easy to say, but to create the emotional connection that helps people move from one place to another is a bit challenging than people perceive. What’s been your experience of that kind of shift between just having a vision and making it inspirational?
Andrew Selley: Yeah. I think the point that I do make in the book is, yeah, the worst thing that can happen is that, you know, the leadership team go off into a little huddle and come back to the business and say, Hey, here’s the vision. And they stick a few posters up around the business and that’s it, you know, you really have to live and breathe the vision because the more you can involve your team or the business in creating that the better, I think. So, when we created our values, for example, myBidfood, you know, we had about 50 different listening groups across the business, you know, speaking to all people in all parts of the country at all levels to really understand what they thought was the essence of working at Bidfood and what the true values were.
And then we were able to distill that and basically play it back to people. So, they were all felt involved in that. And therefore, you’re giving them something that they’ve already been engaged in rather than just trying to sell them something that you’ve thought of. But I do think it’s about people underestimate how much you have to keep reinforcing the vision because clearly people come and go within the business. So yeah, somebody who might’ve started a couple of months ago, it was never heard the vision. So, if you’re not constantly repeating it and engaging people and explaining it, then it gradually dilutes its effectiveness. But also, you know, you think everyone lives and breath it like you do, but they don’t, you know, most people are working because they want to have a job, get paid, do well for their family, get on with other things in life.
And you know, they’re not thinking and living and breathing the business necessarily like you are every day. So, you have to find a way of constantly refreshing it and explaining it and engaging with people on the vision and on the values. And yeah, that’s something that we would do all the time within Bidfood is, anytime we put out a piece of communication, we always try and relate it to a value or the vision or something, and just reference that back. So, people can always sort of make that link back to, oh, yes, I understand what this is talking about because it’s this part of the vision or it’s that value or whatever, but you really do just have to keep banging on about it I’m afraid for want of a better phrase, you know, because, you know, you’re the evangelist, you’re the one who’s meant to be having that passion and injecting that passion into the business. And if you don’t then no one else’s is.
Steve Rush: That’s right. And of course, they look to leadership to make sure that congruent with all those messages. So, there’s constant points or nudges to activity that you’re completing as a business and how it links back to that vision is incredibly powerful.
Andrew Selley: Absolutely. Again, talk about that in the book and that’s quite often where things break down, because if your actions don’t back up your words, then people will not listen to your words. So, if you say, you know, we value people within this business, but then there’s somebody who completely disregards the people who work for them, but because they’re doing a good job, you just sort of ignore it. And you know, you don’t want to lose them as a performer, so you ignore their deficiencies in the way that they value and deal with people. As you say, there’s no congruency between what you’re saying and what you’re doing. So, it’s really important that your actions back up your vision and your values, otherwise there’s its points.
Steve Rush: And it’s no surprise that G in your model is galvanized into action?
Andrew Selley: Indeed, indeed. So galvanized into action. You’ve got to walk the talk as they say. And I think the other really important thing is, you’ve got to just get going. I think too many people spend too much time planning and tweaking and trying to get to what they think is the perfect model of what they’re trying to do. But you know that as soon as you engage with an employee or a customer or a supplier, that model is going to change anyway. So, you might as well just get going, get on with it and then tweak it as you go, but really about, you know, as you say, galvanizing and motivating people at all levels and all different cultures, et cetera, within the business. So that’s sort of the key part, because if you’ve got the vision, but nobody’s doing anything, then you’re not going anywhere.
Steve Rush: And there’s a nice build to end, which is nurture. So, you kind of set your vision, you’ve got people galvanized into action, and then it’s around nurturing that talent and the activity forward, right?
Andrew Selley: Yeah. And nurturing the team effectively because, you know, unless you are a small business, you know, you’re going to have people working for you and you’re going to have people through whom you need to deliver results. And the only way you can deliver the results that you want is by investing your time into nurturing and caring for your team, making sure they’ve got the right skills, making sure they’re happy and motivated, making sure that they understand the, you know, the vision and the journey that you’re on and the role that they play within that, and making sure that they understand what you expect of them in terms of the way they manage their teams or engage with their customers or whatever. So, yeah, certainly as you know, you know, in my role as CEO, then obviously a lot of my time is just spent around the team. Because obviously I’m not delivering those goods to the customer. You know, ultimately, we’ve got thousands of drivers and warehouse guys who are doing that work. So, it’s all about how you communicate and nurture the team to flow down through the business.
Steve Rush: Indeed. Now what was really interesting when I looked at I, which increased everything. I looked at it for a moment and I read through your chapter in the book. And as I finished reading it, I recognized that unconsciously, this has been what I’ve been doing through transformation, but you’ve taken that kind of whole higher level of focus, activity and energy and applied it in a B.A.U. sense to get people to think differently about what they’re doing. Tell us a little bit about that?
Andrew Selley: Increase everything is probably the most tenuous one in the acronym to be honest with you. It’s about the whole sort of, yeah. The 10X approach, the type of approach that the likes of Grant Cardone, et cetera, would sort of support insofar as you know, the rule that, he would say is, you know, in any situation you’ve got four options. You can retreat. In which case you’re going to go backwards. You can do nothing. In which case you can to go backwards because other people will be doing something. You can take what would be the normal amount of action in that situation, which may have some results, or you can take massive action. And generally speaking, if you’re taking massive action in those situations, you’re going to be outperforming the competition. And the key for me is that, is that very often we launch something or we launch a project.
And I think certainly my tendency is I always look at the things that aren’t quite working well. Those two things are working well over there, but these two things here, aren’t working as well as we hoped. And you sort of focus your attention on the things that aren’t working as well, and you sort of increase your, maybe your investment or your focus on those areas to improve them. But you should also not forget where you’ve got areas that are working better than you thought you’ve got to be increasing your focus on those areas as well, because you know, you’ve got some momentum, you’ve got some traction. So actually, you could double down on that and get even further ahead. But I think generally speaking, we often, well, there’s two things happen. Either we focus on the weak areas and then we’re not maximizing the strong areas or we go, actually these two areas are working, that’s great. These two areas aren’t so we’ll get rid of them. And you know, very often people sort of stop investment in projects too soon when they probably could have made them work, if they’d had increased the investment and the focus on them, or they aren’t investing enough in the areas they’re doing well. So, it’s a mixture, so depending on which way, your natural balances is, where you’re always focusing on the good things, are always focusing on the things that aren’t working. The messages you should really be focusing on both.
Steve Rush: Yeah.
Andrew Selley: All the time. At some point you need to cut your losses and go, okay, I’ve really tried with this and it isn’t working. And so, yeah, cut it. But yeah, not before you’ve given it a full effort and a full focus.
Steve Rush: I also noticed that within this part of the book, there’s a bit about mindset here as well about how people will routinely do what they’ve just always done. If you don’t really shift the energy and focus forward.
Andrew Selley: Yes. And I think, and that’s not a criticism, that’s a fact of life, I think.
Steve Rush: It naturally we entrenched to what we’re comfortable doing, don’t we?
Andrew Selley: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. When I took over in my current role, the business had been performing reasonably well. They’d been growing at 3 to 5% in terms of bottom line for the last three or five years. And yeah, therefore when I was challenging people to say, you know, what do you think we can achieve in the next five years? People would go, wow, maybe 20%, 25%, you know, thinking of that would be a little bit of a stretch. So, I just said, no, we’re going to triple the profit. That’s the fact that we will be set out to do was increased by 300% over the next five years. Unfortunately, the last year was the one that’s just gone, but we were on track to, we wouldn’t quite triple, but we were a long way north of 25%. So, I think it’s about.
Steve Rush: There is a massive lesson, isn’t there?
Andrew Selley: Absolutely.
Steve Rush: So much as had you not had that approach from the outset, then it wouldn’t have allowed you to ride the storm as well?
Andrew Selley: No.
Steve Rush: Without that in the bag, so to speak.
Andrew Selley: But I also think you have to do it credibly. So, I didn’t just go, Hey, you know, we’re going to go from 3% to 300%, you know, you had to lay out some milestones, which we talk about in the communication chapter. You have to lay out some credible milestones that say, actually, if we do this, and if we do that, and if we do the other, then you can paint a path as to how you can get there. Not that it’s easy, but at least it’s feasible. And if people apply themselves and stretch themselves.
Steve Rush: Yeah. And your communication chapter, you call, tell, tell, tell, which is the T in your model.
Andrew Selley: Yeah.
Steve Rush: And there’s a theme actually across all of the different layers of your business that is really consistent around that never stopped communicating. Tell us a little bit about that?
Andrew Selley: Well, I it’s just the one thing that you can never overdo is communication, obviously. You know, we have a challenge in our business where we’re, multi-site, 25 plus sites around the country, multi-cultural in terms of the different locations of those sites and you know, different job roles within that. Everything from, you know, cleaner through to warehouse, through to driver, through to telesales, to sales professionals, to national sales professionals, accountants, I.T., marketing, digital. Yeah, we’ve got the whole spectrum of employees and ages and cultures. And you have to find a way to communicate your message to all of those people in a way that suits them. And I think that’s the key in communication is, you have to communicate in a way that suits the recipient, not in a way that suits you as the deliverer. So, I think the point I make, for example, as you know, we have teams who work in the freezer, you know, in our warehouses. So, they’re working at like minus 20 degrees every day. And you know, it doesn’t really work if you say, Hey, you know, come into the office and sit down for half an hour. Because they’re frankly not used to being that warm. And I usually not off in about five minutes and you know, if you’re doing it during that day, they’re actually looking at you going well, actually you’re taking up my time when I should be working. And I know I’m going to have to work twice as hard when I get back into the warehouse to finish the job. So, it’s the wrong environment. It’s creating the wrong situation, because they’re not really listening. They’re thinking about what they’ve got to do when they finished, et cetera.
And so, you’ve really got to think about, you know, in that instance, I’ve got to communicate to this team, actually, I’m just going to do it down in the warehouse, maybe not in the freezer, because that’s a bit cold. Down in the warehouse in an environment that they’re used to, I’m going to bring them in early and pay them for their time. So that they’re not feeling that I’m impinging on their time. I’m actually creating space and they know it’s important. And maybe we’ll lay on that with some coffee and bacon sandwiches or something, again, it’s just those little things completely then change the environment that those people are listening to what you’re saying. So regardless of the message, yeah. You’ve completely changed the way that they’re listening to you. They’re listening to you with a way that says, okay, it must be important. They bought me in, they paying me. They’re not impinging on my time; I got a cup of coffee and a bacon sandwich, fantastic. Yeah, that whole attitude is different in a way they’re receiving the message. And then obviously it’s going to be very different for, you know, your digital team in the office or your sales team out on the road. You’ve got to find the right way to communicate, again to the right teams in the right place. So again, it’s just to me something you can never, never overdo
Steve Rush: And particularly in a pandemic, of course, when you’re in a crisis, my experience tells me that more communication, regular communication is exactly what people need, not less, but again, ironically in many businesses and in many teams, the leaders under duress and pressure forget the importance of that regular communication and indeed listening of course, which is part of that communication process, isn’t it?
Andrew Selley: Yes, absolutely. And we started probably from like the week after lockdown. So, after the week after our business had declined by 70%, we started doing daily communication. So, which has was quite a challenge, to be honest, daily emails, memos, whatever either people can receive or they can be briefed out in their workplace. You know, just to say to people, you know, this is a situation, trying to be honest, you know, this is what’s happened with the volume. Clearly this is what’s happening with whatever government support is coming in. And what we’re going to take advantage of. This is what we’re doing, yeah. This is to keep you all safe in the workplace. Because obviously we still had, as I say, sort of, you know, 30% of the business going through, so we’re still got to operate all the depots. So, this is what we’re doing from a health and safety point of view and just that regular daily communication, which we probably carried on for like four months. And then maybe reduced it to like twice a week or weekly, et cetera, as things changed was really important. I think in making sure that people understood what was happening
Steve Rush: In the absence of that communication, what typically happens is folks make up their own stories and then they’re either right or wrong and usually they’re wrong because they haven’t got all the insight and information. And that can be really quite toxic too an organization, can’t they?
Andrew Selley: I mean, as they say, you know, people will fill a vacuum if you’re not putting the information out there, as you say, people will assume their own.
Steve Rush: Last E is embed and it makes loads of sense that you would want to embed all of these things. But tell us what that really means to you?
Andrew Selley: I think as a leader, you’ve got to have almost like a pipeline of initiatives that are coming through the business. And clearly you generally focusing on one at a time, but as you’ve communicated your new initiative or new strategy or new category that you’re working on or whatever, and you’ve been through the process of explaining and communicating, getting everybody on board, getting the team involved, communicating to everybody, how it fits into the strategy, et cetera. At some point, you’ve got to embed that into the business and have that as business as usual. Otherwise, you can’t release your time to bring through the next initiative. So, I think very often you that’s where you get sort of CEO or MD or whatever overload where they’re trying to spin all these plates.
Steve Rush: Right.
Andrew Selley: Because they haven’t got the way of actually saying, okay, this is now part of what we do. And then let it go, and hopefully if you develop your team and communicate effectively and whatever, then you can embed that to the business as usual. So, so maybe you should be like 70% working on the current initiative and then maybe 30% on the next one that you bring through. And then as you embed that current initiative into business, as usual, you can switch the 30% on the second one into 70% and then start to bring another new one through.
Steve Rush: I like that.
Andrew Selley: But I do believe you’ve always got to have that, I think the chapter I put the end, which didn’t fit into the acronym was.
Both Speakers: Never stopped.
Andrew Selley: Because you just can’t stop because if you stop, you’re going to go backwards. So, you’ve always got to have that sort of a pipeline or conveyor belt of ideas and strategies and whatever because fact of life is not everything’s going to work as well. So, you can’t bet the house on one initiative and find out it doesn’t work. You’ve got to have a pipeline coming through. And then that means you’re going to have to embed them, which means integrate them into the business and then optimize the performance as you go on
Steve Rush: And then go again and again and again. And which is why you’ve been around in the industry you’ve been in for so long and had such great experience in doing so. Given that you were pulling together your book over the course of the last year and whilst it’s called Ignite Your Business, it could be ignite yourself, ignite your team, ignite your department. It’s a model that you can take across lots of different teams and situations, but how did that play out for you during the pandemic? Was there a particular moment when you thought, gosh, that’s definitely a bit of focus for G or that’s definitely a bit more of I?
Andrew Selley: Yes. I think the really pleasing thing for us during the pandemic was that the things that I’ve talked about in terms of the way that the values had been created with involvement from everyone in the business. Yeah, the pandemic showed that they were real and they were the way that people conducted themselves rather than just a poster on the wall. So, we only have three and they rhyme. So that’s really helpful. So, it’s care, share and dare. And so, care is take pride in what you do, no matter what you do. Share is work together to achieve great results and dare is take brave steps to deliver exceptional results. So, care obviously came to the fore during joined the pandemic because yeah, we needed to make sure that we were caring both for the teams that were still in the business and we’re working hard and under stressful conditions.
But also, you know, at the peak, we probably had 60% of the workforce on furlough and at home, which brings its own challenges from mental health and wellbeing perspective. I think share and dare really came through in the way that we realigned our business. So, we actually went with our major competitor and worked on a sort of food relief program for the government. So, there was about one or half a million people who were stuck at home, who couldn’t physically get out of the house because they weren’t allowed to because they were clinically vulnerable and they didn’t have family support to help them in terms of shopping, et cetera. And so, with our major competitor, we set up a sort of nationwide home delivery service to half a million people in seven days and got that product procured. Because it wasn’t the sort of the normal product that we would sell.
We were procuring, packing and distributing that product within seven days. And to do that with the people who were normally, you know, toe to toe in the streets when we were in the restaurants was amazing, but it was actually done because we both had that vision of here’s a group of people who need our help, let’s come together and sort this out rather than thinking about, you know, the old competitive elements. And I think it was described as the biggest food relief efforts since world war II. So, it was clearly quite a big thing, but really again, that’s the whole share and dare, you know, doing something really quite different and working together with our competitor to deliver something that was important. But again, really showed to me how having that shared vision, even in a wider team that now enrolled was your competitors still works because it actually went like a dream, you know, because we were all just focused on the end goal.
Steve Rush: It’s a fantastic achievement and congratulations, I think it is an amazing feat to have had to pull it off in such a short space of time. And I just wonder, as you were sharing that, has that reduced that competitive edge? Is there more synergies that exist as a result of that now?
Andrew Selley: No.
Steve Rush: So, it’s kind of gloves back on then, it’s kind of back into the corners.
Andrew Selley: Yeah, I mean. There’s sort of only, sort of two main national players in the marketplace. So, there’s lots of local players on a local basis. We compete with a lot more companies, but for the big national accounts, we tend to just complete with one. So yeah, it’s business as usual, but I think, you know, clearly, you’ve got a higher level of respect and understanding, but at the end of the day, we’re now back focused on our own businesses and our own shareholders.
Steve Rush: Brilliant. So, this part of the show, Andrew, we get to turn that leadership lens on you and I’m getting an opportunity to hack into your experience of leading teams and businesses to goes, to find out what your top three leadership hacks might be?
Andrew Selley: Okay. I think the first one is really important for leadership and for life I would say is that you really do need to know yourself. You need to know who you are and what you stand for, what are your red lines in terms of what you will do and won’t do et cetera. And I think you really need to be comfortable with yourself and like yourself, because, you know, you can’t really create a culture and create a business or even being in a relationship until you really understand who you are and you’re happy and comfortable in your skin. And the more that you do then the easier it is to, I think, adapt to situations because you know, where you stand around different things. So, and I think that’s really important. And I think that we’re very often influenced by other people and what other people think and what other people say and what strong characters may say and what people who we respect and the buyer may say. But you’ve always got to sort of center back into your true north and your compass to say, does that align with I want to do and what I stand for? So, I think that’s really important.
Steve Rush: True.
Andrew Selley: What I’ve always found really good. And one of the best, you know, I’ve said I’ve read some business books that were boring. You know, one of the best books I’ve ever read was 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. And you know, it’s a great book when something just sticks with you forever. And the thing that’s always stuck with me from that book was around the sort of the time planning quadrant whereby you’ve got the two axes, one of which is not important up to important. And one of which is urgent or not urgent up to urgent.
And it’s really about how you categorize your to-do list into those four quadrants. So, you know, if it’s not important and not urgent, then actually you shouldn’t really be doing it, delete it or delegate it. If it’s urgent, but not important. It’s basically a time-waster that snuck onto your agenda. And again, you need to get rid of it or delegate it, obviously, if it’s urgent and important, you just need to get on with it. But the area that gets neglected is the important, but not urgent things. And those are the things that tend to be neglected if you’re wasting your time on those other areas. So that’s the area where things like vision and values and team development and strategy are going to sit in that, yeah, they’re really important, but they’re not urgent. So, you really need to manage your time to make sure you’ve got time to spend on those, not urgent, but very important things, so that will be my second point I would say.
And I think again, the other one to me is a life attitude is always talk to everybody and always find out everything. So, you know, you’ll find out more talking to the guys around the back of the warehouse or in the smoking shelter or the cleaner or the tele sales operator than you will, by speaking to the leaders, you know, you’ll find out what’s really happening rather than what people want you to hear. And, you know, I think always talk to everybody about everything. Even if you asking two different people, the same question, you know, if you’re getting different answers, then you’ll an inkling that things aren’t in alignment. So, and I think it’s really important as well for leaders to be seen, to be communicating and engaging with everybody in the business.
Steve Rush: Yeah. I love that. Super stuff, great advice. Thank you. So, the next part of the show we call it Hack to Attack. So, this is typically where something you need in your life or work hasn’t worked out, but as a result, you now are using it as a positive, what would be your Hack to Attack?
Andrew Selley: I think without overdoing the attacks, my Hack to Attack would be to attack every situation. And I do think obviously what hasn’t worked out for us in the last year has been the pandemic. And, you know, in any situation where you’re faced with a challenge, some people are going to hesitate because, you know, I think, you know, when there’s a real shock to the system, a lot of people will hesitate and evaluate and try and understand all of the implications of the situation. And I think if you attack in that situation, you just get on and do something, then that’s going to be your opportunity. So, like I say, we had a real hit to the business and the volume crashed, but we sort of proactively got that contract with our competitor by pushing for it. And then off the back of that, you know, we’ve developed, you know, a direct to consumer offering as well as a business-to-business offering. So, we’ve sort of adapted that skill set to actually say, well, actually, is there a demand for, you know, catering quality, restaurant quality products direct to the consumer? Clearly our pack sizes are a bigger than normal, et cetera, but for a monthly shop or for family events or whatever, there’s an opportunity there. So, we’ve taken that by sort of attacking the situation, we’ve developed another opportunity. So, I think my hack would be attack when others are hesitating and then you’re always going to be at an advantage, I think.
Steve Rush: Brilliant. And you only find out by doing of course.
Andrew Selley: Indeed.
Steve Rush: Yeah. So, the last bit of our show with you today is to get to do a bit of time travel and you get to bump into Andrew 21, give him some advice. What would you be?
Andrew Selley: I think it would be back to the point that I made, because if I looked back to myself at 21. I probably did take too much account of what other people were thinking and saying, which to a certain extent, I think it is natural, you know, in terms of, you know, the less confident you are in yourself the more you may adapt your behavior to others. But my message to myself would be, you know, again, know yourself, understand yourself, know what you stand for, and don’t be afraid to stand up for what you stand for. And I think that will put you in a fantastic position for the rest of your life, as well as the rest of your career.
Steve Rush: Yeah, great advice. Andrew, listen, it’s been a really pleasure speaking with you.
Andrew Selley: Thank you.
Steve Rush: I thoroughly enjoyed reading your book. I’m delighted that we’re connected through this great medium through podcasting. And if our folks listening to this wanted to find out how they can get a copy of Ignite Your Business and indeed connect with you, what’s the best place for us to send them?
Andrew Selley: Yeah. Well, if they’re in Europe, they go to http://www.igniteyourbusiness.biz, you can order the book there. If you’re elsewhere in the world, U.S. or overseas, then it’s probably best to go on Amazon and order it. And obviously it’s available on Kindle on Amazon as well.
Steve Rush: And you’re also active on LinkedIn. So, we’ll make sure that we connect you through that medium. And all of those links will be in our show notes as well.
Andrew Selley: Yes, absolutely. And if people want to contact me again, they can go through the website or email me at email@example.com. Because I do have some very limited availability for mentoring or coaching of some leaders. If that’s of interest to anybody so.
Steve Rush: Brilliant.
Andrew Selley: Please get in touch.
Steve Rush: We’d love to make that connection happen. Once again, thanks Andrew for being on The Leadership Hacker Podcast, it’s been a real pleasure.
Andrew Selley: No, thank you. I’ve really enjoyed it.
Steve Rush: I genuinely want to say heartfelt thanks for taking time out of your day to listen in too. We do this in the service of helping others, and spreading the word of leadership. Without you listening in, there would be no show. So please subscribe now if you have not done so already. Share this podcast with your communities, network, and help us develop a community and a tribe of leadership hackers.
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