Mike Greene: ‘I just don’t think politicians are really in touch with the real world’

Mike Greene: ‘I just don’t think politicians are really in touch with the real world’ 1 2 3

[prev] …not a bad thing. In fact, it is a very important part of our life journey,’ he says. ‘Failure teaches you some of the most important lessons you will ever learn and if you are attuned to these lessons you will emerge a stronger, wiser and more resilient person – and be equipped with all the ingredients for success.’ His ambition is to help others achieve their goals by sharing his stories and experiences through inspirational public speaking, and personal and professional mentoring. Would Mike Greene the businessman make a good politician? He probably would, but it’s not an area he wants to get involved in. ‘I don’t get involved in politics partly because I find it really hard to respect the moral compass and consistency of the people in charge,’ he says. ‘The reality is they’re all as bad as each other. They all promise stuff that they don’t deliver on, but if you don’ t vote then you haven’t got the right to argue.’

I just don’t think politicians are really in touch or understand the real world

Mike is also a strong believer that career politicians are not the best people to be governing the country. ‘Those who do politics in school, politics in university, then become a political aid and a politician – I just don’t think they’re really in touch or understand the real world,’ he adds. Perspective is also important and Mike learnt a valuable lesson from a personal mentor at a time when he was so absorbed in building his business he was in danger of missing the bigger picture. ‘My mentor advised me to take time out to get a fresh perspective but I felt I didn’t have the time,’ Mike recalls. ‘But he was quite blunt and said if you want me to mentor you then you need to listen to what I am saying.’ And so Mike took off and climbed a mountain. ‘My mentor was absolutely right. It got me to look at the business from a distance with a proper perspective and without all the interruptions we normally have. I came back and was able to grow the business faster and bigger – and so every year since then I’ve undertaken something new and different.’ During each annual challenge, which have included climbing mountains, sailing, marathons and long-distance cycling, he looks for maybe a dozen life lessons that can be applied to business. ‘Last year when I was doing the sail training there were questions like ‘why would the steering wheel on a boat be at the back as opposed to the front?’. Of course, in the sense of a sailing boat, if you steer from the front you can’t see what’s going on with all the crew, but the skipper or the helmsman being at the back can see every crew member, every sail and everything that’s happening. ‘The metaphor I take from this is that it’s not always necessary to lead from the front. Sometimes it’s more effective and safer to lead from the back, where you can see everything that’s happening.’

‘Businesses need to be more charitable and charities need to be more business-like’

Experiences from the 2013 Clipper Challenge will form the basis of Mike’s second book. Originally it was to be called Eye of the Storm but it’s now in the process of being re-organised and written as 52 short chapters designed as a weekly guide to doubling business turnover in a year. It is evident from our conversation that Mike is a great believer in practising what he preaches. ‘You should live the life that you want to talk about and you should be the success that you advise on,’ he says. ‘I think any consultant – whether it’s in cardiology or business – needs to show they are in control of their own habits, desires and goals. Otherwise how can you legitimately advise on how to do this or that?’ And the strapline that underpins it all? ‘It would be ‘businesses need to be more charitable and charities need to be more business-like’,’ he replies. ‘Where the two meet in the community there’s a sweet spot that is really successful. And when that happens it’s the equivalent of Bourneville or the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.’ We could have chatted for longer, but I realise time is pressing – and I now have my own goals to set and a strategy to plan. I leave full of inspiration and with what Mike likes to call his business card – a copy of his book Failure Breeds Success…

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Mike Greene: ‘I just don’t think politicians are really in touch with the real world’ 1 2 3

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