Mike received an OBE (Order of the British Empire) with recognition from Her Majesty The Queen for his contribution to the UK digital economy. Personal branding was synonymous with success!
In his business life Mike was CEO of Telecity, a company he helped successfully from a market cap of 6 Million to well over 3 Billion.
Q: How do people stay focused on that one idea that is going to get their business rolling?
Appreciating that failure is one step closer to success and working on learning about your sales metrics is key to avoid disappointment! Mike went through sales training with Brian Adam’s cousin Ian, he explained to him:-
“Imagine you are a broom salesman and you go to 100 houses, 99 houses don’t want one.
Statistically one in a hundred wants to buy from you so you should rejoice it when people turn you down.”
I will Succeed or I am going to learn! Seeing the direct path to success. In life, there are not that many lessons to learn, selling yourself and building trust is what it is all about.
When thinking about your career, focusing on a specific skill-set is key as opposed to a specific role.
Mike mentioned his daughter wants to be an artist, and how he explained this to her: focus on your skill-set and not the career, being an artist is very narrow, but focusing on being artistic will help you to use your skill-set and open your opportunity portfolio.
“Communicate well, you must engage with people, sell confidence, people will trust you and will buy whatever you are telling them to buy.
But it does break quicker than it is made, if you sell someone something they don’t need!
People have confidence in you and will buy from you.”
Q: How do people stay focused on that one task that is going to get them to the next level?
Rate of change is getting faster; having the single objective isn’t the most important thing. Every day we should wake up with the question, what can I do today to move me forwards towards my goal?
Perhaps having the single task isn’t the way forward but an objective that you are aiming towards every day.
Focus on: Tenacity, resilience, stamina, take the knocks and engage with people. People always say getting funding for small business is tough but Mike doesn’t agree.
Mike mentions how he walks past a key cutter who sell umbrellas become £10, in the sun they are £1.50 and banks are just the same. It is a good idea to go to the bank before you need money, if you go to the bank and tell them what you do instead of going to ask them, you should engage with them when you don’t need to, this will knock of some of your interest charges and help you to grow.
It is a bit like girls and waiting for them to come to you.
He mentions about where technology is going and how you will be able to use Blippar for dating with their facial recognition software and how they are planning on putting Augmented reality on contact lenses and AI and how this could be used for dating with facial recognition software. You will also be able to change the colour of your eyes, but you will have self defence mechanisms.
Once tech is invented you can’t turn back the clock and uninvent it.
People Google you before they meet you, people Google you and we discussed people search for you.
We also discussed some tips for Tinder and the other amazing technology that is coming along for dating apps and the antidote. I mentioned how much time it took to look for a date on Tinder and how I heard of a new strategy of creating catch of the day on your Tinder picture.
Q: I know you are big believer in taking action before strategy?
From his book “Forget Strategy Get Results” the title is slightly tongue in cheek, strategy is less important than taking action. No one writes 5/10-year business plans anymore and how writing strategy is not important but taking action and getting something out there is the key to making something work.
Focusing on delivering a vision is the way forward, if you are focusing on going on holiday you don’t know what colour your plane is and you don’t know which route the taxi is taking. If there is a detour that the taxi driver takes then you take it and arrive at the airport anyway.
Find a way through it, we work out the way of going there along the way.
Big data is seen as really valuable, the true value of data is released into the open when you can access the data. We discussed many great developments on food nutrients and how the supply chain in the food and beverage industry will save them around 15%.
He mentions the mini rudder, micro changes that are guiding the IoT and Big Data, the next few years are going to be interesting.
The wine industry will also benefit from the big data, putting nutrients into alcohol maybe interesting…????
Q: How do you think big data affects scaling a start-up business?
It is not about a vertical application for big data, government is very important and have a huge amount of data on us, they could release this data on us.
Companies need to work out what they want to be famous for. They need to collect data from everywhere not just in their own niche, if they can take big data from other verticals they will really benefit.
If you put all your customers into a CRM and use the big data and put the data into the system is key to success.
Producing data on clients means we need to do the work around inputting all the client’s touchpoints into a CRM system.
Usually sales people put the details into a CRM and people need to understand the value. You have to put the data into the system before you analyse it.
Do the work around the engagement and enrich and then use the data. If you have an offer you can use the data to send some tickets to Chelsea.
People buy data and buy generic lists of nonsense and why we get calls from people asking us if we were in an accident…
We need to get over the fact that people have data on us, if I have nothing to hide I will build protection around it.
It is a bit like protecting against speed cameras, we discussed some funny things about the cops and breaking the speed limit….
Listen Here :-
Q: Do you think it is important to create a clearly defined target market or can you go wide?
You are looking for the ability to generate more than mild interest and generate some income or prove to the banks what you are doing is warranting investments.
If you do track something it is not necessarily needed as it is, but you can tweak your product and make it work. If you are the best in the world; if you can focus on your particular skill sets you can be successful. If you are passionate about something, your skills can overcome your lack of knowledge.
It all starts from an idea and perceiving a need but you can move beyond that need to create a product that works.
We tweaked Profile Jetpack to be more tailored to the audience, so the product and price are now right and now we are looking at the promotion and the place.
The fundamentals of business are still the same
Make people like you
Curate ideas into them, it’s as old as time, we are just using new tools!
It’s very exciting to meet people online and then face to face. Or you meet them face to face then using online to deepen the relationship.
He explains about Ultrahaptics and how it creates a sense of touch through ultrasound, you can use the sound to lift dust from the air, the idea is to use it to levitate the dust when making chips.
50-100 years ago this technology would have been seen as magic, controlling our limbs using our minds would have been telepathy.
Q: Why are you a maverick ?
A couple of journalists used the term, back in 2004 when he merged Telecity and Redbus data centres. The team were really worried about losing their jobs, interestingly he didn’t ask anyone to leave.
Whether we are or not fear is an irrational emotion, it is like worry, paying interest on a debt you haven’t drawn yet.
If you are concerned about a potential outcome, if there is something you can do then do it, if there is not then don’t worry about it.
Fearing the future, losing all this emotion, fearing what could happen is not the way to go, nothing has happened yet so it is a waste of energy.
He took his management team to Scotland. They thought they were going to a distillery for a whisky tasting.
He stopped in a carpark at an aquarium and asked them to put on wetsuits, he asked them to get in the water 2by 2 they got in the water with 3m long sharks, if you touch them they will take your hand off.
Afterwards they had a debrief, some said “I was petrified, I hated you Mike, where is my HR manager?”
“OK so how did you feel on the seabed when they were looking at you?”
They said “I was still really scared, but it was really exciting.”
Mike “So how did you feel when you got out?”
Them “I feel amazing now, a lifechanging experience, but don’t want to do it again!”
Mike “Every-time you are scared, you should know when you get out you will learn something and when you come out of it you will feel better and everything else.”
He said the people he wanted to get rid of he gave them a nick on the arm on the way in…Just Kidding!
The second time Mike did this sort of Maverick outing was when he took the newly merged teams to the north pole; to the ice hotel, made out of ice and everything is made of ice.
Brilliant sales and success secrets here!
After merging the two businesses he decided to get them to bond…
Like the Ice bar in Regents street, except the Hotel is -50c, once they had had plenty to drink he then organised the accommodation and the people who didn’t like each other were given beds to share.
So in the middle of the night they had to shine a torch on the person they didn’t like as they had no toilet inside, you can’t go outside on your own as you would freeze to death, they then went back in and warmed their feet on the other people’s backs.
In the morning they were best of friends!
Mike also organises the CEO sleepout, in early March they sleepout in London, they raise well over 150K per year for action for children. We agreed it keeps your feet on the ground.
In the morning one of the CEOs said “I really do appreciate what it is like to sleep rough”
Mike told him that it is not the same as people don’t know when it is going to end.
He makes the analogy, that it is just like small business and running one is just like this, getting up just one more time, taking the knocks…
Starting a small business is tough, to start with we had no leads as branding grader created loads of leads…we decided that too many leads is difficult.
It’s about creating content that is easy to understand, the annoying part of the leads is that you have to do something with them.
A bit like the French brasserie at lunchtime when the waiter looks at you with distain…
Q: Your new book Live Love Work Prosper is coming out soon and you don’t believe that there is a work life balance?
If you look at the great leaders like Nelson Mandela, he didn’t have a work life balance and his children were fighting over his estate before he was buried.
If you are so driven to success you can’t compromise, you need to be able to do your emails at any time at home.
When Mike goes to a restaurant sometimes people say “don’t you think it is rude to have your phone on the table.” Bearing in mind he has businesses in each time-zone, if he has his phone in the cloakroom in his briefcase, his brain may be worrying about his phone that is in another room.
So having the phone on the table is great so keeping an eye on it is the best way to have the phone on the table and it frees his mind from it being on the table. So he remains 100% present when he is having dinner.
Mike tells me a story about a chap on the bus who receives an email and opens up his computer and try’s to get the report done, but his wife is annoyed that he is doing the work at home.
So he lies to his wife and works from the toilet and he has an awful time telling his wife; he then engages with a female co-worker at work and they build a stronger relationship together.
Mike describes a better way to handle this situation with his wife, when work life is balanced and our partners work with us to find a solution our home life doesn’t suffer.
This is a great story and is well worth listening to on the podcast!
In Mike’s new book he shares some great stuff with 3D technology.
Get Mike’s new book here Live Love Work Prosper
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Listen to the other episode I did with Mike > https://www.buildbusinessacumen.com/keeping-your-feet-on-the-ground-with-mike-tobin-obe/
This episode was originally on my personal site https://www.natschooler.com/sales-and-success-secrets-to-scale-up-your-startup-with-mike-tobin-technology-entrepreneur/