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  My experience working with a wide range of young businesses, from complex financial software through to artisan food producers says, it is easy to get distracted by products and forget that the underlying success drivers are the same regardless of what you make or do.

girl at wall

A visit to The Climbing Wall in Sandyford, a 3 week old fledgling business already packed with happy customers on a freezing January night made me stop to think.  What gets customers in this case to a business with no marketing or advertising budget?  What separates success and disaster for a young business in the early scary days?

“The wall” is an indoor state of the art climbing wall in Sandyford industrial estate. So, your business is very different, but the same answers apply and will help you succeed early.
  • Passionate attention to  all customers, including the ones future customers. I dragged along a friend who doesn’t climb, and had no intention of doing so.  She instantly felt welcome, even though climbing up the wall until then was something she only does at business meetings. Your customers may come in many forms and will have different needs. See the world from their perspective – are they confused? Scared? Stressed? Finding it hard to park? At the Wall you feel safe and at ease. And yes, of course, she climbed. And is now hooked.
  • Create a happy place where staff are as engaged as you are in looking after customers with care. Your staff must feel like a really core part of your baby business.  Get them on board and make sure to find ways of harnessing all their bright ideas about how to make your project a success
  • Know your customers intimately before you start. Alan and Brian really understand their market, and are well networked. They already understood exactly what climbers want and immediately ran simple high impact events that have built up loyalty, traffic to The Wall and loads of Word of Mouth publicity, always the most powerful form of marketing. This also helps you create a sense of community and shared values among your customer base, so your customers stay longer and believe in what you do.  Happy customers come back.
  • Be clever about how to position and communicate what you offer: .The Wall makes canny use of social media and press coverage to get the story out in a more targeted and dynamic way than any ad ever will.  Network, but be savvy about how you use that precious network.
  • Know your competition equally intimately, know when to compete (and how) and when to collaborate. Sometimes collaboration is the right strategy – work together and instead of splitting a new small market you can grow it together, creating greater awareness by acting as a group and attracting more people to a new service or product.
  • Good team - make sure all the practical stuff is under control.  The top team here includes a marketing whizz and an employment law specialist.  They have team skills to make sure the business is set up on a sound financial footing, property and planning skills and expertise to make sure design and operations are top class.
  • Finally – do something you love. The chances are you will be very good at it!
  Moira Creedon is a facilitator and consultant in Strategic Finance and has worked with both corporate and public sector clients worldwide helping decision makers at strategic level to understand finance and improve their ability to formulate and implement strategy. She teaches on IMI’s Diploma in Management and a number of Short Programmes including the Senior Executive Programme. See our Spring 2015 schedules here: IMI Diplomas Spring 2015 and IMI Short Programmes Spring 2015 [post_title] => 'Off the Wall' tips for early business success [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => wall-tips-early-business-success [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-11 20:58:52 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-11 20:58:52 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.imi.ie/?p=8958 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 13880 [post_author] => 72 [post_date] => 2016-02-17 08:51:34 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-02-17 08:51:34 [post_content] =>

There are now about two million people who are in work in Ireland. Of these, about half a million work in the public sector in areas such as administration, teaching and health. The rest are employed in the private sector.

Considering its centrality to our everyday prosperity, the private sector is oddly depicted in our culture. The big businessman is always the baddie. Just think: Mr Burns in The Simpsons, Michael Douglas’s Gordon Gekko in Wall Street, or Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street.

Picture3

Source: www.axiomcommunications.com

On that basis, it’s good to see that a movie has just come out that portrays financiers in a more realistic light: as intelligent people who take risks to make money in a complex financial world in which there are winners, but, by extension, plenty of losers. The Big Short, released on January 22 2016, is based on an adaptation of the adage of “buy low, sell high” among stock market traders. Going “short” simply reverses the sequence by aiming to “sell high, buy low”. To put it simply, you sell a stock that you don’t own and think is overvalued and undertake to close the transaction by buying it back later. The protagonists of The Big Short, based on the book of the same name by Michael Lewis, realise in the mid-2000s that the US housing market is an accident waiting to happen and that it is a big candidate to be “shorted”. It examines several different individuals who independently reached such a conclusion and who had the guts to back that insight with their own cash. As one Bloomberg View writer put it: “It isn’t a spoiler alert to say that the financial world collapses, the protagonists get rich and no one lives happily ever after.” The most compelling story was that of Michael Burry. He was the founder of the Scion Capital hedge fund which he operated from 2000 to 2008. Mr Burry initially qualified as a medical doctor and left work as a neurologist to pursue his hobby and become a full-time investor. In 2001, Mr Burry’s first full year at the hedge fund, the S&P 500 index fell 11.88 per cent but Scion was up 55 per cent, according to Lewis. The next year, the index fell again, by 22.1 per cent, and yet Scion was up again: 16 per cent. In 2003, the stock market finally turned around and rose 28.69 per cent, but Mr Burry beat it again — his investments rose by 50 per cent. By the end of 2004, he was managing $600 million and, as Mr Lewis put it, was “turning money away”. It was at this point that Mr Burry focused on the US housing market. As the market collapsed spectacularly and others lost lots of money, he was still in profit because he had correctly predicted what would happen. He later said he shorted mortgages because he had to. “Every bit of logic had led me to this trade and I had to do it,” is how he put it. He has also pointed out that he did not benefit from taxpayer-funded bailouts as he liquidated his shorted positions by April 2008. Picture1 One thing is clear from all of this. Mr Burry is worth listening to, especially when it comes to issues relating to the financial markets. In a recent interview with New York magazine, he gave some hints about where the next big-short trading opportunities may come from. He said that he had hoped after the crash that the world would enter a new era of personal responsibility, but instead we “doubled down on blaming others and this is longterm tragic”. On this basis, the Irish response might not impress Mr Burry. Our reaction to our own banking crisis has been to blame bankers for lending to us rather than to reflect on whether we were wise to borrow and to invest in overvalued property. Instead of learning lessons, it would appear that we have simply sought out scapegoats to evade personal responsibility. Mr Burry’s comment that “if a lender offers me free money, I do not have to take it” is not one that sits easily in Irish public debate even if it is little more than a statement of the obvious. The hedge fund manager is not happy either with the current state of global financial markets, which he believes are once again trying to stimulate growth through easy money. “It hasn’t worked, but it’s the only tool the Fed’s got,” he said. Mr Burry is worried that the markets are using interest rates to “price-risk”, but that mechanism is broken as the interest rates of central banks have been kept for many years at close to zero. Worse still, he thinks that by using low interest rates to fight the aftermath of one bubble going bust, central banks may just support the development of more bubbles. That’s the big risk today, but it’s also how the US housing market developed into a bubble a decade ago. In combating the economic decline after the internet bubble went bust in 2000, Mr Burry argues that the Fed kept US interest rates too low for too long. He argues that we are building up “terrific stresses in the system” and any fault lines will harm the outlook. The problem with this conclusion is that, despite our progress, Ireland remains one of the most heavily indebted countries in the world. We would face a heavy cost if they were to rise again.

Let us be grateful then that Mario Draghi, the head of the European Central Bank, doesn’t agree with Mr Burry and that eurozone interest rates are likely to remain low for several years to come.

 
IMI . Picture Conor McCabe Photography.
Cormac Lucey is the Programme Director of the IMI Diploma in Business Finance. Cormac is also a Financial Services Consultant and Contractor who has previously worked with PricewaterhouseCoopers, Rabobank Frankfurt and the Department of Justice. 
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Emma Birchall is Head of Research - Future of Work at the Hot Spots Movement. Here she has the opportunity to convert leading research into practical insights for clients who are looking to find new ways of using technology to drive human capital performance. She will be a keynote speaker at the IMI National Management Conference on 8 October 2015.   IMI: Based on your current work – if you only had 6 words of advice to give a business - what would they be?

EB: Bring back the trust. They’re human.

IMI: What does this mean? EB: From collaboration to performance to employee engagement, everything we know about work is changing – but our businesses are seemingly slow to respond. People are more attuned to sharing posts, writing blogs, and providing instant feedback through ‘likes’ and ‘favourites’ than they are to completing surveys, so why does our approach to employee engagement still centre on a set of fixed statements and a rating scale? In their personal lives people collaborate naturally with those around them and have an amazing propensity to share even when there is no immediate benefit to them, hence the success of crowdsourcing sites like Wikipedia. So, why do we spend so much time and energy in organisations on encouraging people to practice these seemingly natural behaviours at work? The challenge for businesses is to disrupt every process and practice in the organisation by asking: Why does it exist? What are we trying to achieve? If we were to start the organisation from scratch, would we choose to create this? And perhaps most tellingly of all, would this practice exist if we trusted our employees? IMI: Where should we look for further information? EB: For further information, take a look at the Future of Work website or follow us on Twitter @HspotM: http://www.hotspotsmovement.com/research-institute.html engagement Source: www.abcgreatpix.com Emma Birchall is a keynote speaker at the IMI National Management Conference taking place on Thursday 8 October. This event has now reached maximum capacity however if you would like to be added to the waiting list, please email your contact details and company name to conference@imi.ie. [post_title] => "Bring back the trust. They’re human" Six Word Wisdom from Emma Birchall [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => bring-back-trust-theyre-human-six-word-wisdom-emma-birchall [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-11 20:45:55 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-11 20:45:55 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.imi.ie/?p=11578 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 8010 [post_author] => 37 [post_date] => 2014-09-04 14:33:32 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-09-04 14:33:32 [post_content] => Due to a number of factors such as technology and globalisation our day to day lives - whether business or personal increasingly involve broader international networks.  And while in the IMI blog we often consider our "effectiveness" in how we interact with and manage others but all too often we do not discuss the critical factors of nationality and culture. How do cultural differences impact on your ability to do business? And how can we make sure we are maximising our relationships with those in our network who may be operating with cultural differences to our own.   Erin Meyer is a professor at INSEAD, one of the world's leading international business schools. Her work has appeared in Harvard Business Review, Singapore Business Times and Forbes.com. In 2013 the Thinkers 50 named her as one of 30 up-and-coming thinkers and in October 2013 British Airways Business Life magazine on their list of 'Ten Dons to Watch'. Her work focuses on how the world's most successful global leaders navigate the complexities of cultural differences in an international environment.   Erin-Meyer IMI: Based on your current work - if you only had 6 words of advice to give a business - what would they be? EM: Succeed Globally with a Culture Map IMI: What does this mean? EM: Today, whether we work with colleagues in Dusseldorf or Dubai, Brasilia or Beijing, New York or New Delhi, we are all part of a global network (real or virtual, physical or electronic) where success requires navigating through wildly different cultural realities. Unless we know how to decode other cultures and avoid easy-to-fall-into cultural traps, we are easy prey to misunderstanding, needless conflict, and ultimate failure. Yet most managers have little understanding of how local culture impacts global interaction. Even those who are culturally informed, travel extensively, and have lived abroad often have few strategies for dealing with the cross-cultural complexity that affects their team's day-to-day effectiveness. To help people improve their ability to decode the cultural differences impacting their work and to enhance their effectiveness in dealing with these differences, I have built on the work of many in my field to develop a tool called the Culture Map. It is made up of eight scales representing the management behaviours where cultural gaps are most common. The eight scales are based on decades of academic research into culture from multiple perspectives. To this foundation I have added my own work, which has been validated by extensive interviews with thousands of executives who have confirmed or corrected my findings.   The scales are:
  • Communicating: explicit vs. implicit
  • Evaluating: direct criticism vs. indirect criticism
  • Leading: egalitarian vs. hierarchical
  • Deciding: consensual vs. top down
  • Trusting: task vs. relationship
  • Disagreeing: confrontational vs. avoidance
  • Scheduling: linear-time vs. flexible-time
  • Persuading: applications-first vs. principles-first
By analyzing the relative positioning of one nationality to another on each scale, managers learn to decode how culture influences day-to-day international collaboration and therefor avoid the common pitfalls. Managers have always needed to understand human nature and personality differences – that’s nothing new. What is new is that twenty-first century managers must understand a wider, richer array of work styles than ever before. They have to be able to determine which aspects of their interactions are simply a result of personality and which are a result of differences in cultural perspective. IMI: Where should we look for further information? EM: Read The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business.  Or my HBR article:  Navigating the Cultural Minefield www.erinmeyer.com. Erin Meyer will be holding a Masterclass at IMI on September 30th.  If you are interested in attending click here to register. [post_title] => "Decode cultural differences to suceed globally" Six Word Wisdom from Erin Meyer [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => six-word-wisdom-erin-mayer [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-11 21:04:07 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-11 21:04:07 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.imi.ie/?p=8010 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 16062 [post_author] => 90 [post_date] => 2019-09-17 07:48:10 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-09-17 07:48:10 [post_content] => [post_title] => "China is the next innovation powerhouse" Six Word Wisdom from George S. Yip [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => china-next-innovation-powerhouse-six-word-wisdom-george-s-yip [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-04-30 14:23:08 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-04-30 14:23:08 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.imi.ie/?p=16062 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) )
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11th Sep 2019

Related Articles

'Off the Wall' tips for early business success
....“If a lender offers me free money, I do not have to take it”
"Bring back the trust. They’re human" Six Word Wisdom from Emma Birchall
"Decode cultural differences to suceed globally" Six Word Wisdom from Erin Meyer
"China is the next innovation powerhouse" Six Word Wisdom from George S. Yip

Another successful IMI National Management Conference

NMC 2015 A4 HEADER
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The IMI National Management Conference is an opportunity to meet senior executives at the key high-level forum in the Irish business calendar. The IMI NMC forms part of the IMI corporate membership which gives organisations a  flexible and tailored membership offer.

This years conference Reinventing Organisations – Rethinking Leadership, which was sponsored by eir, was yet another illuminating and thought-provoking event and as always was an excellent place to network with the country’s leading C-level executives. It challenged assumptions about business, organisations and leadership with national and international thought leaders which included Jim McGuinness, Yves Morieux, Emma Birchall, Thimon de Jong and many more.

Dr. Simon Boucher’s opening words highlighted how “the IMI is in the midst of a very exciting period as Ireland’s only globally ranked business school for customised executive education and how we are perfectly poised to support the growing need for executive development in Ireland”.
Richard Moat, chief executive of eir, echoed the conference theme when he discussed how the largest telecommunications company in Ireland has transformed over the last number of years and most recently its re-branding from eircom to eir.
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Yves Morieux, Senior Partner and Managing Director at The Boston Consulting Group focused on how companies should not aim for the best practices but for the next practices and highlighted the work crisis of dissatisfied workers. The lesson from the opening keynote Thimon de Jong was how “digital transparency is more important than privacy”. Emma Birchall warned us that “something happens in the organisational context that changes our behaviours…not always for the best”.

Rory Sutherland’s entertaining session told us how “we let rationalisers define the problems, but the world is irrational so let’s rethink the problems”. Sue Cox brought interesting leadership lessons from tango.

To finish the day, Jim McGuinness’s very intuitive interview used sport, psychology, management and success to share leadership , performance and cultural insights with us. He spoke about the lessons he has learned from developing and managing top talent especially the Donegal senior football team’s successful All-Ireland campaign of 2012.

The overwhelming theme that emerged through all this?

The importance of collaboration and culture to organisations in this new digital and ever-changing environment.

eir – IMI scholarship launched at the conference

Further details on this will be shared next week on our website. In the meantime, here are some more pictures of the day….