Brexit made simple

Excellent images of flags for your business
Excellent images of flags for your business

Don’t worry I’m not going to berate you to leave or stay.  I’m more interested in how politicians have positioned the issues for us to discuss and the confusion they have caused.  What I’ve tried to do is simplify the arguments.

To me Brexit is about three things:

  • Trade
  • Immigration
  • Political Union

Of these I think that political union is the more serious topic, but you may not agree.


It’s clear that all parties to the debate have decide to go for the trade subject as that is where they can scare the voter the most.  Some of the comments made by both sides:

  • It’ll cost us £4,300 per household per year.
  • We buy 52% of our imports from the EU.
  • We send £350m to the EU each week.
  • We’re a great country and the 5th largest economy in the world.
  • We’ll be at the back of the queue in trade negotiations with the USA.
  • Unemployment will rise.
  • The EU won’t want to trade with us.
  • The NHS will suffer.
  • We’ll be stronger outside.

Everyone is uttering the doom and gloom of staying in or leaving without providing us any real facts.

The EU is in the middle of a major trade negotiation with the USA and we don’t yet know what will be agreed and how it will affect us or the EU.

The truth that is acknowledged by both sides is that no-one knows what our trade situation will be until we leave or we decide to remain.


At least on this issue there does seem to be a consensus, if we stay in we’ll be overrun (just like the Rumanian scare that never materialized), or if we leave we’ll be able to pick and choose who we let in.

Well, if we leave we’ll have to sign a trade agreement with the EU if we want to retain that market and then the people will come.

Let’s not forget that both sides agree that over 2 million UK citizens have moved to Europe.

If we stay, we’ll have to let EU citizens in as it’s fundamental to the EU, the free movement of people.

Both sides agree we need to let people in because we don’t train enough Doctors, Nurses, Scientists, IT people and so on.

Political Union

The in crowd says we should stay and make the necessary changes to the EU that will make it stronger.  The out crowd says we would be stronger and would be able to negotiate better with the EU.

David Cameron supposedly negotiated a better deal for the UK in the EU, but we’ve heard nothing about it so far in this campaign, except to be told by other EU leaders that it’s not binding and the courts could overturn it.

The fact is that the EU is on a track to political union and it would like the UK to be part of it.  Our 50 million population and our place as the 5th largest global economy is very attractive to a group that wants to play on the world stage as a major power.

Of course the SNP want us to be part of the EU because they know believe that the EU will eventually pass more and more power to the regions and not to the National Assemblies.

But, we have lost our veto over laws we don’t like and as Kate Hoey said recently ‘we are not an independent country anymore’.  We are forced to go with the majority which may be against our interests.  Look at Greece.

The USA would like us continue to be part of the EU because with our special relationship we’d provide a safe corridor into the EU which would benefit them.

The leave group agree with this but say we can be part of the EU trading group without being part of political union.  But can you; Austria and Switzerland did and we opted out of the Euro, but most of the politics of the EU is applicable to us through the directives like PSD2.


  1. Both parties agree that a trade agreement with the EU is vital and that we have to accept we’ll have less control over our borders than we’d like to have.
  2. Both sides agree that we should have more control over the skills of the people we let in.
  3. Both sides agree that the EU machine is not fit for purpose and difficult to reform.
  4. Both sides have more in common than sets them apart.

What it finally comes down to is do you think our future is as an independent country or should we be part of a unified EU.



10 secrets to successfully managing remote teams

The secret to successfully managing remote teams is in recognizing that it’s more a leadership role than a manager one.

Too often I find that managers try to manage remote teams as if they were locally based and it doesn’t work.  Remote teams need to have more attention and more support than locally based teams.  You have to compensate for the lack of interaction with other colleagues and you must see your role as their manager as a supporting one.

Too often I find that managers see their role is to assign work to people and then only interact when the work is complete or a problem is reported to them.

Managing remote teams is a full-time job, not just a task and it needs to be addressed that way.  I am always concerned when a manager tells me they manage their teams with a team meeting held once a week and then I know they’re not doing it properly.

I don’t think you can simply say that the Sales Director is based in one place, and they manage a team in remote locations without giving the Sales Director the time and authority to manage the team.  In extreme cases I’d say you can’t give the director a sales target of their own; if you do they’ll focus on their target not the team.

Remote teams suffer from isolation and ‘silo fever’, they miss the contact with other people, the banter, the exchange of ideas and dreams, the interaction we can take for granted.  So, the manager of the remote team has to artificially create the ‘work environment’ and try to deliver the benefits that people can get from it.

My suggestions for the 10 things that you need to do to successfully manage a remote team are:

1. Have clear expectations upon deliverables.  What this means is that when you assign a remote team member a task, you need to be clear about what you want them to do and what the deliverable will be.

I remember one manager I had who used to say, I’ll call you on a Thursday and you can give me your numbers then. Well, that wasn’t very precise was it?  There was no process involved, no reporting mechanism and I didn’t know what he would do with the information.  Nor did I know exactly what numbers he needed.

2. Set accountability parameters.  Be clear about accountability with remote teams as they don’t have the opportunity to pop their head round the door and ask you for advice when they have an issue.  So I would encourage my team to tell me what they’re doing, how and to share with me the results of the task.  I would trust them to be open and transparent knowing that if they fail, I will help them recover; I will protect them if they are totally honest with me.

3. Lead your team.  This is my favorite; don’t manage, lead.  Leading to me is about providing my team with a vision they can follow, understanding their role in achieving that vision and then providing the support they need to succeed.

I find that inspirational leaders are very good at managing remote teams as they generally inspire their teams to perform better.  I wouldn’t suggest you manage a remote team as that is the road to conflict.  Sometimes the big picture is all that is needed.

4. Celebrate personal and work achievements.  All team members need to be ‘stroked’ especially in matters of their personal life.  I find that celebrating birthdays, anniversaries and major achievements is important to establishing that bond of respect.

A good leader will always take time to connect with team members on a personal level after all I find that’s when you really understand people.  I wouldn’t let it get in the way of the job; it’s more a complementary activity.

5. Instigate team meetings.  Team meetings are vital to success, but they’re much more than reporting mechanisms.  I use them to connect with my team to promote and exchange ideas.  I try not to use them to report, that you can do on a one-to-one as part of the daily process of keeping in touch.  Once a week I try to introduce a bit of training, explanations about processes and procedures that need to be followed and every week I try to get on of the team to explain how they met a particularly difficult objective.

6. Have away days.  Every 3 months at least, an overnight away day is essential to rekindle friendships, restate common goals and objectives and generally bond.  I try to combine them with a bit of training and also get other teams external to ours to explain a new business process or product; anything that makes the team feel they’re a part of the whole.

7. Provide them with the right tools.  I find this essential.  Whereas in the office you can make do, remote workers, especially those at home need to be furnished with the right tools.

I’m often reminded of the story of Michelangelo calling the paint store department to order the paint for the Sistine Chapel only to be told that they only had red paint.  Listen to the story as told by Bob Newhart, it’s funny as well as enlightening.

Seriously though, the remote worker doesn’t have colleagues in the next room or a stationery cupboard or an IT department.  If you want them to do a good job, you have to provide the right tools.

8, Encourage collaboration wherever possible.  It is rare that I find a task can’t be shared by two or kore members of the team and it’s a useful way of getting them to work together albeit remotely.

I find remote workers more than anyone need to have ‘engineered companionship’ and they respond to the idea of a joint venture with enthusiasm.

9. Provide them with the right information.  In the past I have been very frustrated by not being given the right information or brief for a job.  Most remote workers are the type of people who like a brief and then they get on and deliver.  The disappointment they feel when they’re told it’s not quite what was wanted is palpable.

Not only the brief, but I find it vital to provide the remote worker with all the information they need to support their task.  It’s fine that they do the research, but if you can help you should do so.

10. Have a rolling feedback model and regular reporting.  When I work in the office managing a team I am constantly going around the team, talking to them, repositioning them, drawing out their issues and helping find solutions.  Finally I am in a place to give good feedback.

With remote teams this is much more difficult as specific calls need to be set up and you focus instead on milestones rather than being involved in the whole process.  I find that regularly checking in with my team is vital to our joint success.

Obviously the talents of a successful remote team manager are different, but they ultimately call for an empathy and caring approach to managing people.




UK Needs leadership

I’m very concerned that as a country we’re marching towards a catastrophe when it comes to the EU referendum.

I feel that the UK is ill-equipped to take this decision without a serious attempt by the government to allow us to know the facts about our association with the EU; both current and future.

The Prime Minister is making a serious error in my opinion by not informing the public properly about our EU relationship.  The average man and woman in this country, like me, doesn’t understand properly the arguments for an against membership of the EU.



About WordPress

WordPress is the most popular blogging tool that has also emerged as an excellent web site design tool.

Aimed at a market that has something to say, whether an individual, a professional, guru, company, organisation; it doesn’t matter who or what you are WordPress is a powerful way of getting your message across to an audience.

Here are some examples of web sites that have been built using WordPress:

This web site, Leadership-Matters was built using WordPress and , my other site, which can be vir=ewed here, PaymentsBlogger was also built using WordPress.




Five (F)laws Pitching Your Business

Written by Creel Price

Shortened by PaymentsBlogger

Posted in LinkedIn – Dec 1, 2015

I’ve always enjoyed the interesting and enlightening conversations that often happen in the back of an Uber. I’ve talked about almost everything from the situation in Syria right through to how to poach the perfect egg. But one thing I never expected to be educated on is the very thing that I spend most of my days training.

This is what I learnt:

FLAW #1: Not Succinctly Saying What You Do – If you can’t say what you do in one succinct sentence that an average person would understand then chances are the average angel investor won’t understand either.

e.g. We are a software business, that offers a cloud based accounting service to small business owners.

FLAW #2: Not Able to Remember Your Pitch – Don’t read off your page or even show me a pre-prepared PowerPoint.  Know your business and tell me about what it is and why it is awesome in a conversational tone.

FLAW #3: Not Speaking Frankly –Use simple language that doesn’t make you look like you are a walking jargon bank or someone whose vision is just a conglomeration of the latest band wagon trends designed to impress.

FLAW #4: Not Being Authentic – Investors buy the entrepreneur first and the business second.

FLAW #5: Not Having an Ask – Tell them how much you are looking to raise and the type of investor you are seeking.


The best CRM you probably have

The Digital Business Menu

The best CRM you probably have

Most businesses need to build relationships with their customers, suppliers and staff.  They need to track communications, make appointments, remember to do things, track projects and so on.  Whilst I am an advocate of having as much face to face time with stakeholders, automating the admin and the processes is a useful thing to do.  The key to managing properly is to be organised and Outlook from Microsoft is one of the best free tools around.


What this isn’t

This isn’t an Outlook tutorial or training post.  Outlook has many features that I don’t discuss here.  This post is concerned with introducing you to a simple CRM, that’s all.

All Microsoft users know how to use Outlook and it is generally viewed as a very useful mailing program.  But it has some very clever functionality that lends itself to being an extremely good tool for managing relationships which is after all what a CRM does.

In particular I’m going to discuss the following:

  • Tracking contact conversations
  • Making appointments
  • Tracking and managing  tasks

Also in other posts I’m going to cover some Outlook add-ins that you can get for free that when used with Outlook turn it into a powerful tool:

  • Use Evernote to collect information, notes and aid research
  • Use Dropbox to store data safely and share it easily with your network
  • Use the Snipping Tool to take screen grabs and store them

The first thing you have to do is to change your approach to Outlook.  It is a great tool for mailing but it’s real power is when you start to perform your work in the contacts section.  There are two types of contacts, personal and company.  It seems strange to people to think of this way but it works.  A contact can be a company, a brand, a web site, a concept and so on.  You might want to track information related to a car for example, you can do this in Outlook easily.  Also think of Outlook as a portal from which you can have different threads which can all be followed from the contact record.

The key to the approach I’m suggesting is to remember that this is a Microsoft product and therefore it’s very friendly to other Microsoft products and the copy and paste functionality works well as do hyperlinks.

In an Outlook contact that you open, you are presented with the same standard screen, but look at the tabs, there is a lot more information you can record about your contact.

Standard Outlook view

This is the standard view of a contact, on the left are the fields to record the pertinent information about the contact.


You can also record more information on the contact by selecting the ‘Details’ and ‘All Fields’ options from the ribbon.



In the details tab you can add more information about the contact, information you can use to cement your relationship, whatever it is.  If you add a birthday or anniversary these will show in your calendar at the appropriate time with a link to the contact.


All Fields

In the drop down menu there are a number of options you can select.  I personally don’t use them as I have enough information with the standard files.  Occasionally I use the ‘User Fields’ at the bottom of the list to record sales information such as how much revenue I’m trying to make from the contact.  It’s up to you.


The Ribbon

The ribbon area contains all the actions that you can perform; in particular we’re interested in the area called ‘Communicate’.  This is the main area we use to turn Outlook into a CRM.


Excuse the sharpness of the image, I wanted to show the drop down menus and the only way I could do it was to do a screen print and crop the image to get the ‘Communicate’ tab contents.   Anyway, in the communicate tab we have the following options:


  • Email – Opens the mail module of Outlook and populates fields for you and links the mail to the contact for future use.
  • Meeting – Allows you to set up a meeting request with the contact and link it to the contact.
  • Call – If you have a dial-up phone or Skype attached to your PC, then you can initiate the call from here.  When you make the call from the contact view, you can easily write up your notes as you go.
  • Web Page – You can access the web page from here.
  • Assign Task – You can either assign yourself a task or you can send the contact a task or if you’re in a shared environment assign a task to someone else.
  • Journal Entry – You can enter an entry in the Journal, such as a note or memo; however, I prefer to use the Note section of the contact window – I’ll explain in a moment.
  • Map It – Finally you can link to Google Maps for example and include a map of the contact location.

Used consistently and sensibly these tools can turn your Outlook into quite a powerful CRM.

This information can be used from within the contact to carry out various actions we’ll discuss later.  The main area we are concerned with in this post is the Notes area.

That’s a quick overview of Outlook, let’s now go over the topics I described at the start of this post in more detail and to do most of this we’re going to use the Notes section of the contact.


The notes area is a blank page on which you can write, draw, paste picture, link to files, and so on.


Tracking contact conversations

I use the notes section to write my notes about any contact.  I either write my notes freely or use the ‘Insert’ tab to insert a table into which I place my notes.  It doesn’t matter which method you use it really depends on your level of compulsiveness.

Here is an example of what I mean:


For the table you have access to all the usual editing tools and you can add rows and columns, sort and resize.  It’s just up to you what you prefer.

You can also add hyperlinks to pretty much everything:


Web Pages that are relevant to the contact, email addresses of contacts that don’t require their own contact page and links to files relevant to the contact like reports, memos, correspondence, links to videos, photos either linked or included, and so on.

Making appointments

From within the contact you can also set up meetings:


You can send the appointment to a single contact or to a number of contacts.  The appointment will appear in your calendar and all the usual options to change or cancel the appointment are available.

Tracking and managing  tasks

In a similar fashion to the appointments you can also assign create and/or assign tasks:


You can send the task to the contact if it is something they have to do, assign it to someone else in your team by changing the recipient, or if you delete the recipient and leave it blank, when you save the task it will appear as a non-contact specific task in your task list.  To do this tick the ‘keep an updated copy of this task on my task list’ check box.

If you assign the task then if the recipient changes the dates or anything else or completes the task you will receive a notification and the task status will be updated and can be viewed in the Task module.

Grouping contacts

It’s useful sometime to group contacts together to make mailings easier or create special interest groups.  This is done by selecting the ‘Categorize’ option.  You can customize the categories to be whatever you want; profiles of contacts, linked companies, status in a sales sense, industries, personal or work and so on.  Whatever makes sense for your business.



I don’t use the Journal function but you might want to.  The Journal is a note taking module that is similar in function to the ‘Note’ frame but with some additional fields to record the length of the activity being journalised and so on.  I have never needed that much detail.


What I’ve tried to do here is to explain how you can use Outlook as a simple and easy to use CRM.  We covered:

  • Setting up a contact,
  • Recording activities with the contact,
  • Grouping contacts together,
  • Using Outlook as a sales tracker,
  • Recording research and marketing material on a contact,
  • Ways to use Outlook to cement your relationship.

If you nave any comments or feel there’s other functionality I should highlight then please get in touch.  If you need any help making this work for you, contact me.  If you have any criticism, please be gentle.


This post is published by Leadership Matters

Contact – John Doyle – – Mobile: +44 (0) 7801536104
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