Rock Solid Foundations

March 21, 2016

I’ve been using a training room on the 11th floor of a building in Fenchurch Street, London on a fairly regular basis for a little over a year.

Across the road is a building site which has been the fascination of myself and many course delegates during coffee breaks over this period. For months progress seemed painfully slow – not a lot happening. Just clearing the site and digging some extremely deep holes!

Suddenly, on my last two visits, I’ve been amazed how quickly things have changed. The foundations stage complete, now things are moving fast. The building is taking shape as its structure rises from well below ground level to form a new landmark on the London skyline.

The same principle that applies to buildings is also true with building strength in an organisation’s people. If the foundations are good, the sky’s the limit. If they are weak, inefficiency, stress, confusion and conflict abound.

When it comes to people and performance there are also ‘foundations’ that if everyone in a team understands and consistently does, make a huge impact on effectiveness and overall productivity.

Here’s a few ideas that help form that strong foundation:

  • The ability to set and work to clearly defined goals
  • Understanding ‘WHY’ – knowing the purpose behind the goal
  • The power of The Slight Edge & 1% improvements
  • Avoiding crisis mode & constant fire-fighting.
  • ‘High Payoff Activities’ & the power of 80:20
  • Effective, systematic daily planning & prioritising
  • Not living in your inbox
  • Choosing most appropriate means of communication
  • Sensitively handling interactions with others
  • Maintaining a healthy balance across all areas of life

I’m sure you could add others to this list and I’m also sure that few, if any, of these subject areas are things you’re not already familiar with. They are not the icing on the cake. They are the base-layer. The starting point. Like in the building project described above, disproportionate time and care should be taken to make sure they are properly laid.

It’s not complex but neither is it simple.

So many times I’ve seen that difficulties faced by individuals, teams and sometimes whole organisations stem from poorly laid foundations.

The magic is not in knowing about these foundational concepts but in the consistent application of these ideas in a consistent way by all members of your team!

It’s for the reasons stated above that the course I run most often, and am always excited by the results, is the half-day Foundations of Success workshop. If you’d like to know more about Foundations of Success, click this link

Remember when your history teacher kept interrupting?

March 4, 2016

A brief but important piece this time round.

Picture this – and you’ll have to imagine it because despite the question in the title, I bet it never happened. You are sat in a Maths class at school and just getting into some long division or a bit of algebra when in through the door bursts the history teacher who was teaching you the previous lesson.

“We didn’t cover it earlier but I just wanted to let you know, the Battle of Hastings was 1066 and Harold died when he was hit in the eye with an arrow!”

Then out she goes.

A little perplexed, your Maths teacher tries to remember where he was and carry on. Six minutes later, in comes your Geography teacher.

“I know I’ll be seeing you in class this afternoon, but I couldn’t wait to tell you that the best example of coastal erosion in the UK is at Barton-on-Sea and we’ll have a look later at some brilliant footage of the cliffs collapsing. Bye.”

“This is getting silly”, you think to yourself. And it is. Really silly. It makes the Maths lesson really unproductive for you in terms of learning anything, tires all the teachers out as they rush around trying not to forget to tell anyone anything that might be important, and generally leaves both teachers and pupils feeling stressed and like they’re not accomplishing important work nearly as fast as they should be.

Good job the workplace isn’t anything like this!

We talk a lot about this at our Foundations of Success workshops and it certainly stirs up some interesting conversations!



It’s boring but…

January 29, 2016

There are some very exciting subjects to be covered in the field of leadership and management and I love to get lost in these.

Vision, innovation, managing change, empowerment, releasing peoples’ potential, strategy, handling authority, relationship-building – all fantastic and very, very important.

My topic for today may not sound so exciting, but is equally important. Essential I would say.

Managers and Leaders must be organised!

By definition, you are managing and leading people, projects, assignments, resources and activities. You have lots going on. Things can easily get overlooked or forgotten. If there are even the tiniest cracks, important things will find a way of slipping through.

That’s why being organised is such a key foundational skill to have. Be organised. Help your team be organised. It’s the gateway to achievement and effectiveness in every other facet of your work.

That’s why personal productivity is the first step in LMI’s Total Leader process, and developing a system to handle all your day-to-day responsibilities well is covered in depth on our Foundations of Success workshop.

It might sound boring but…


Serious power upgrade

May 12, 2015

We just moved into a new house and I had some ‘dismantling’ to do of various items left by the previous owners, some of which involved cutting some metal frames.

My limited experience told me to go searching through my equally limited toolbox for a hacksaw – it would have done the job…but it would have taken me ages, and expended a lot of energy.

Enter the hero of the story, my brother-in-law who, on hearing about my intended endeavors, goes to his garage and pulls out one of these little beauties!

angle grinder

Upshot was that I got the job done in just a couple of minutes and it was loads of fun…so I’ve been dangerously wandering around the garden looking for other things I can remodel 🙂

It’s a simple analogy to what I find so often in my work with managers and leaders – there are some really powerful tools that are the equivalent of a massive power upgrade when it comes to handling their own responsibilities and the day-to-day affairs of the team effectively.

The only way to discover these tools is to pause from the hectic daily activity long enough to find out what they are and to learn how to use them.

That’s all for now – I’m off back to the brother-in-law’s garage to borrow the chainsaw!

Much more than time management.

November 13, 2013

Foundations of Success

October 24, 2013

FOUNDATIONS OF SUCCESS is a free monthly workshop for business owners, leaders and managers, as well as HR / L&D professionals interested in business performance improvement through developing people.

These two-hour events serve as an introduction to the concepts and practical tools that LMI have been using all over the world for more than 50 years in support of personal and organisational development for our clients – from sole traders and SMEs through to some of the world’s largest and best-known companies.

For full details and to book, visit our Eventbrite page:


A simple lesson from school we stupidly forgot!

July 25, 2013

Do you remember being at school and worrying about how you were going to fit everything in? I mean, it was crazy – so many different things going on, way too much to remember!

How on earth did we manage to fit in Maths, English, French, History, Geography, General Studies (!), Chemistry, Biology, P.E., R.E., Physics….the list goes on.

And yet, as I recall it, I never once fretted about how I was going to manage to squeeze in enough lessons of each subject to get through the curriculum and be ready for exams at the end of it.

Why not?

Simple. We had a timetable.

This is very profound. We had a schedule to follow that allocated blocks of time for each subject that would allow us sufficient number of hours working on the material that would prepare us for the end goal – passing exams.

Why is it then that having left school, and with just as many different things coming our way in life and in work, that we tend to wing it…hoping we’ll manage to fit it all in, responding to the things that shout loudest, often leaving insufficient time for seriously important things.

Solution? Simple. Timetable it.

The creation of a weekly timetable, or Time Picture, as we call is, is often one of those massive ‘light bulb moments’ for our clients as the realisation dawns…

“You don’t find time; you schedule it.”

We used to know that in school. We forgot.

Why I feel so passionate about…

July 17, 2013

OK, here’s a bit of an outburst about why I am such an advocate of the LMI Effective Personal Management course that I run and why I have decided to launch such a ridiculously good offer on this in order to unashamedly entice sensible, sane, intelligent and wise people like yourself to take the plunge and come try it out!

It’s an age-old adage that something everyone has in common is time. We all have the same amount of the stuff:

– 24 hours a day

– 168 hours per week

– 365 days each year

As someone arrived on a recent Effective Personal Management course they announced, “I did a time management course 15 years ago so I’m not sure how valuable this is going to be.”

That same person left four and half hours later with a very different thought about the value of the day. They had loved it!

You see, using your time well to accomplish this or that task using up as few of your 1440 minutes quota for that day as possible is all well and good, but who’s to say that it was the right task to be doing in the first place!

That’s where the focus must shift from time management to effective personal management, and that’s where this course comes in. It describes ‘personal management’ as:

taking personal responsibility to do the right things, the right way, in order of priority.”

It is so incredibly easy to actively blame others for what we have or haven’t done, or passively just accept that things will always be the same, and important, valuable things in our lives will never get done because of the myriad of other stuff that’s always leaping ahead in the manic scrabble for our attention.

Effective personal management is about taking time out, away from the pressure and intensity of your work, your family life, the 1001 jobs to do round the house…whatever it is that engulfs you… and starting to think about the following questions:

* what is most important to me in life?

* what do I want from my business / career?

* what are my dreams and goals?

* what activities are going to get me to achieve those dreams and goals?

* at work, what are my most important ‘high payoff’ activities and how can I work smarter rather than just throw more hours at it?

* how much time do I want to protect, at all costs, for myself, my health, my husband / wife / partner, my kids, my friends?

* what contribution do I want to make to my community? to the world? and what am I going to do about that this week?

* how much rest, and what kind of rest, do I need to function at my best?

Throwing these kinds of questions at you is easy. Anyone can do it. You’ve probably heard it before, tried some of, started out with good intentions, succeeded a little, failed a lot! That at least would be my autobiography of many years.

If only someone could help me with a way of keeping on going with these great ideas. Is there not some system out there that is more than just the latest tasks and to-do list app? Something which can really help me stop, think, plan, set goals, review goals, schedule time for the most important things, and the most important people, at work and at home?

I could write reams and reams more, but I think you get the picture. I love the LMI Effective Personal Management course because it not only looks at what you should be doing, it also provides you with the tools – a tried and tested personal success system – to start and keep on doing the right things on a monthly and daily basis to achieve the success that you desire.

For £49, with a 100% money-back guarantee, that’s gotta be worth a go!

There it is, I’ve spilt the beans with the offer. My usual price for the Effective Personal Management course is £389 + Vat. My offer is £49 + Vat  for the first person from any organisation to attend.

I mentioned the guarantee. Another client said to me this week, “I wish I’d come across this ten years ago, Nick.” I said I felt exactly the same myself. Therefore, in order to potentially swing just one more person to take up the challenge and come along, I’m doubling the guarantee. If you come along to one of these courses for £49 and don’t feel it was a fantastic use of your time and money, I’ll refund £98!

Find out more about upcoming dates and venues in Coventry and Warwickshire via the event booking page:

…and drop me a line on to request your personal £340 off promo code.

That’s all. Rant over. Have a great day!

Nick’s Nuggets Episode 3 – Handling Emails

November 27, 2012

Nick’s Nuggets (getting stuff done) Episode 1

November 8, 2012