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5 Things I Know Now – Blog – Rich Burn

“5 really? Not possible….. how can I narrow it down to that?” …this was my reaction when our Marketing Manager Mary Lloyd asked me to share this on our new podcast. The concept is that we focus in on the learns and observations we have experienced in our careers thus far. I’m going to share my 5 that appeared on our podcast. Oh, and I followed my passions with the theme of this… all will be revealed when you read on!

1) These Times they are a changin’

Even before the pandemic, I have always embraced change (well 90% of the time!). I think the main reason for this is that I am lucky that I look for the opportunities first when change happens and not the issues it can cause. This doesn’t mean I am blind to the hurdles one can face in times of change, I just I guess, get excited about what change will mean and how I can overcome the challenges.

I have observed many people in work who have been really resistant to change and often for good reasons, but I do think this holds them back in their career and holds them back from reaching their potential. For some, simply change is too much to handle therefore it can never truly be embraced with gusto and if you are trying to manage a team through change this will cause issues. The key is to not alienate these people, but find logic in their resistance which can be factored into the changes.

Change shouldn’t happen for change sake and those that embrace it, can also get very distracted with the endless possibilities, this can lead to a lot of waisted time. But my overriding point here is that if you are a changemaker, take the resistance with you, and if you are resistant to change, try to be more open. We can all do it, the pandemic world has taught us all that!

2) Empathy for the Devil

I once worked for a big American corporate publishing company (Pearson/Penguin Books). I was part of the sales team and fairly new in my role as Academic Sales Consultant (still to this day never considered myself a salesperson, I just listened hard and delivered on time!!)…anyway my boss came to me at one of our extravagant conferences ( I believe this one was in Monte Carlo…. I know right!?) and she wanted to buy me a drink and discuss “empathy”. She had picked up that it was something I naturally had and it was helping me get sales, She then posed the question “Do you think we can teach others empathy in the team?”….. my immediate thought was, I wasn’t even that aware that I had much empathy let alone using it in my job… so my immediate response, was “no, the fact that I wasn’t aware I was doing it, suggests it’s a innate skill. I am naturally nosey and ask lots of questions but I listen hard and genuinely care what people have to say, I don’t pretend or force my agenda on them… especially not on Academics in Universities, they are too smart!”

Finding a connection in any relationship is important. But there is a difference in genuinely caring about others perspectives and feeling and then there is pretending. So I think people can learn some of the elements of “empathy” but it’s hard to pretend for too long

I guess this may be why I am so drawn to marketing (studied it and spent many years working in it). It’s always fascinated me why people behave in certain ways and their feelings towards products or services. We all don’t really realise, but even in the b2b world, decisions on purchasing products and services will always have an emotional connection in their somewhere. So if one can understand someone's feelings more deeply there is a better chance of a stronger relationship and if you are in sales for example, better chance of selling your goods! Also in team environments and certainly if you are a manager, having empathy is such a good natural skill to have. If you can understand your team and the emotions they feel, you can learn to adapt to that and become a “better fit” manager on the long run.

3) “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme, Fried Chicken”

“One flesh, one bone, one true religion, One voice, one hope, one real decision ……Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa Give me one vision!”…. if you hadn’t guessed my 3rd choice is all about “Vision”, but the important part, is delivering on a vision or idea. I have been in many meetings where loads of great ideas are thrown around and jotted down on a whiteboard or celebrated as a great idea…. But the key is whether its relevant to the future vision and goals of the company. Narrowing that down is critical and the next step even more so…. Making it happen!! I think it s a massive asset to a company if you not only have a team member with good ideas, but also someone who can bring that idea to life and key it into KPI’s, business objectives or CPD goals for the individual.

I mention in our podcast (Series 3, Episode 1) an example of my colleague Mary Lloyd our Marketing Manager, she proves time and time again that a good idea is only as good as how and when its delivered, of which she showcases on almost a weekly basis.

4) Stick with the band or go for that solo album?

I remember realising I needed to be more goal and career focussed in my late 20’s. I had some good skills and experience, but I wanted to succeed and at the time earn loads of money! I set my sites high and spent a few years realising these goals. I ended my late 20’s being one of the top sales people across Europe for (Pearson/Penguin Books), won awards, got loads of recognition and money with it…. But I quickly realised one thing, I had tried to do it all alone and make myself the focus of all the praise and attention. On my path to “success” at the time, I had failed to take any of my team with me and I soon realised that this created a negative attitude towards me.

“Tall poppy syndrome”….. this is what I had achieved. I was standing out tall and proud in a field of poppies but a lot of people around me were desperate to chop me down and bring me back down to their level. So I learnt that your own goals are important and can lead to success, but it’s short term. Longevity in any role is about connecting and working together with your team. If you have strong ambitious goals, try your dam hardest to take people with you and achieve it together… you will realise when you do, its actually way more fun and will last a lot longer.

5) “I found love in a hopeless place”

Finding your passions, even when the job hurts sometimes…. It’s so important to me to bring them into my work life. We spend so much time at work and we need to find those elements of it that we love and embrace, because there is often no matter what amazing jobs you have, there is always difficult barriers to overcome and lets face it, sometimes really boring things we don’t want to do and often stuff that stresses us out!

So my advice is to do your core job well and then give a little extra… and then seek out the parts you enjoy the most and are passionate about and do more of it. As long as you always keep on track with your core duties and objectives it should be a no brainer. Your employer will have a more motivated and happy staff member and I guarantee that person if allowed to follow their passions (as long as they don’t start sky diving in the middle of the day when they should be creating a marketing plan!) will give you more in the long run

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