[prev] …is a dedicated family man, with a wife, Julia, and two daughters, who were part of the reason for writing his first best-selling and inspirational book Failure Breeds Success. ‘I wanted to capture my background, motivations and passions because I was conscious the girls live a very different life to my own upbringing. I wanted to pass that on,’ he says. In a nutshell his book guides the reader through a series of steps to define what success means, in all its definitions, to them personally.
‘People spend more time planning their next holiday then they do the rest of their life’
For Mike, life and business are inextricably connected. Whether it is mentoring enthusiastic young entrepreneurs or speaking to groups of several hundred he doesn’t pull any punches. ‘People spend more time planning their next holiday then they do the rest of their life. We look through brochures, search the internet and we talk, but we don’t spend the same time thinking about what’s really important to us – are we in the right place now, where do you want to be in three years, five or 10 years?’ The reality is that people who have a strategy, whether it be personal or business, massively outperform people without them.
And there’s no escape for the small business either. ‘Strategy maps for small businesses are equally important, if not more so,’ says Mike. ‘Often they’ll be working with limited resources and that is all the more reason to have an honest plan in place.’ Mike illustrates the point using the recent World Cup as a metaphor. ‘If we take the goal posts away, who’ s going to win, how can they score? It’ s the same in business and life. If you haven’t even set a goal you can’t see a goal, and if you can’t see a goal you can’t score a goal, so how can you win?’ Mike describes much of modern life as ‘mindless’, a world in which we rarely take time out to sit and think. ‘Too often we live in fire- fighting or reactionary mode and we don’ t take the time to think “what am I doing, what do I want to do, or where do I want to go?”.’ Whether for business or on a personal level, Mike is a great advocate of mixing with the right kind of people. ‘According to American business philosopher Jim Rohn there is a natural tendency to become the average of the five people you spend most time with – income, attitude and everything else,’ he says. It’s a sobering thought and the clear message here is mix most with those that inspire and encourage you.
‘If you share a problem, you’ll be amazed at how much people step up’
When it comes to communicating effectively, Mike also thinks that many businesses, companies and organisations fall short of the mark. ‘Many of us grew up in the generation of ‘on a need to know basis’ and today this kind of approach is very condescending,’ he says. ‘My business successes have all come from a very open line of communication, sharing with people exactly where we want to be and exactly how I believe we’re going to get there. Getting their input and their commitment is important. And if you share a problem you’ll be amazed at how much people step up.’
Mike currently supports a number of charities in the Peterborough area, has around 20 investments in start-up businesses and is on nine boards, five of which he chairs. He’s also involved in organising a charity auction with Peterborough Lions Rugby Club. ‘I think I’ve got just about a perfect balance,’ he says. ‘It’ s about as close as I can get it to a third of my life being personal and family time, a third work and a third charity. I’m still a 16-hour-a-day person, but it’s a really balanced 16 hours.’
Largely because of his own life experiences, Mike still has something of a fascination with failure and turning the negative into something good. ‘I have long harboured the notion that failure is… [cont]