Teaching Creativity to Leaders

Favourite Read of the Week from Strategyzer’s Nabila Amarsy.

What: Employers in the 21st century are pressured to evolve rapidly and innovate at the risk of being outcompeted if they are too slow to react. IDEO’s Tim Brown advises leaders in education and industry on how to instil creativity in their organisational culture.

Why: It’s not necessarily about bean bags, ping pong tables, and free food. Empowering our staff and students to be more creative requires a deep cultural change.

How: Find out more in Tim Brown’s podcast on the Harvard Business Review.

And… In his talk ‘What’s the point of Creativity at University?’,  internationally influential thinker on education and creativity Sir Ken Robinson also considers how higher education institutions might play a greater role in developing the creative capacities of all of their students. It’s thought provoking, entertaining and well worth a watch. See the the long version here and the highlights from the talk here.

It is important to start with a clear definition of what we mean by creativity, as there are two completely different types. The first is technical creativity, where people create new theories, technologies or ideas. This is the type of creativity Ken Robinson and Tim Brown are referring to. The second is artistic creativity, which is more born of skill, technique and self-expression. You can explore more about understanding creativity and practical approaches to it here.

Financial Blockbuster

Last week I went to an event Higher Education Entrepreneurship Group event on Financial Literacy for Entrepreneurship: What to teach, and how?

This event focused on what’s important for students of enterprise and potential entrepreneurs to learn about accounting and finance, and how best to teach it.

It was an opportunity to discuss, share practice, get new ideas, and network with colleagues across the sector.

One of the most engaging and accessible sessions of the day was by Lionel Bunting of the University of Chichester, who brought a little glitz and glamour to the more mundane aspects of business planning.

Lionel showcased a creative and practical approach, designed to change the way students see and think about business problems and aspects that they’re more likely to shy away from.

With his contextualised real world based exercise; a film festival, he gives students the opportunity and ability to get to grips with all aspects of planning such as operations, marketing, generating income and forecasting sales. Setting up a business can be fun, teaching students practical enterprise skills should be equally as fun.

The talk and presentation was based on a case study workshop Lionel developed on the planning and costing out of a film festival event for an independent cinema. The workshop enables students to work with and develop a range of enterprise and employability skills as well as learn about a business model and sector.

There were other great examples of best practice shared on the day and you can see some of them here.

To hear about best practice we’re sharing on, please register with LEEN (Lancaster University Enterprise Educators Network) and to share yours drop us a line and we will happily post about it on our blog.

@BreneBrown : The Power of Vulnerabity

Brené Brown studies human connection — our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.

It’s a talk to share from Ted; but I found Brene Brown via MeganMacedo.com – Be Yourself, tell your story and do something that matters

What’s the point of creativity at university?

Full Talk [1:06] here

Sir Ken Robinson is one of the world’s most influential thinkers on education, creativity and human potential.

His RSA Animate ‘Changing Educational Paradigms’ galvanised thinking about the role that creativity plays in schools.

In this talk he returned to the RSA as they embark on a new programme of work to explore how universities can give their students ‘the power to create’.

Should higher education institutions be playing a greater role in developing the creative capacities of their students, in order to prepare them for the careers and economies and societies of the future – and if so, how?

What are the major current systemic barriers and enablers to a creativity-led approach, and where are the examples of innovative practice that could show the way for others?

These are questions of urgent relevance to students, educators and institutional leaders in the UK if we are to equip future generations with the skills and capacities they will need to live flourishing lives in a rapidly transforming global landscape.


Content from the RSA . More on creativity from the RSA here: Mathematician and Fields Medallist Cédric Villani offers a unique insight into the creative process, and what it takes to produce breakthrough discoveries in human knowledge.

Santander Awards Workshop Reminder – Tuesday 1st March


Workshop date – Tuesday 1st March.

You can book on to the event on Target Connect here.

Full information about the awards is here.

If you haven’t already heard, here is some information about the workshop:

This workshop is aimed at any students with an interest in submitting an application to this year’s award scheme.  We will cover:

  • An overview of the whole application process and timetable
  • The different categories you can apply through, what is eligible and what is not
  • How to structure your application to increase your chances of being shortlisted at all stages
  • How to write a good executive summary
  • What happens if you get shortlisted

Don’t miss out, the event is fast approaching!

Any queries contact us: enterpriseteam@lancaster.ac.uk

LU student engineers and Scientists – Talk nerdy to us!

Melissa Marshall: Talk nerdy to me | TED Talk | TED.com

I listened to a TED talk this morning that I thought the engineering and science students in our community might enjoy.

Melissa Marshall brings a message to all scientists (from non-scientists): We’re fascinated by what you’re doing. So tell us about it — in a way we can understand. In just 4 minutes, she shares powerful tips on presenting complex scientific ideas to a general audience.

Melissa is a Communications teacher and aims to teach great communication skills to scientists and engineers, so that they can effectively share their work.

You can see Melissa’s full bio here.




Book Summary #1 – How to set goals like a Real Estate King

The ONE Thing – Gary Keller with Jay Papasan

To kick off the first book summary we will be going over Gary Keller’s ‘The ONE Thing’ which feels quite appropriate with everyone setting their New Years resolutions. This is a book packed full of value and the advice is incredibly simple, yet brilliant. Before we begin though here is a little bit about the authors.

Gary Keller is the cofounder of the largest real estate company in the United States Keller Williams Realty and ‘The ONE Thing’ is his summary of practical productivity/goal setting hacks which he has used to grow his business to what it is today, as well as making this book a Wall Street and New York Times best seller.

Jay Papasan has worked with Gary Keller for over ten years and is the executive editor and vice president of Keller Williams Realty. He is also the president of Rellek Publishing and has co-authored multiple award winning titles.

Both of these men as you can see are hugely successful and used the following tips below to reach where they are today:


Ask Big and Ask Specific

Setting a goal that you want to achieve is like asking a question. It’s a simple step from “I’d like to do that” to “How do I achieve that?” Most people unfortunately ask really small and broad questions such as “How do I increase sales?” This could literally mean making a little more money from sales at some point in the future, there is no real target to aim for making it difficult to track progress and stay motivated. What you really want to do when setting your goals is to ask a BIG and SPECIFIC question such as “How can I double sales in the next 6 months?” If it is BIG then you are going after extraordinary results. If it is SPECIFIC then you have something to aim at and you have no wiggle room if you do not hit the mark. Aiming for twice as many sales makes it BIG as this is very difficult and could completely change the size of their business. An amount to aim for such as double and also a timeframe to complete the goal within such as 6 months makes it SPECIFIC. Great goal setting comes from asking great questions and if that question is BIG and SPECIFIC then the likelihood of you achieving extraordinary results is increased tenfold.

What is the ONE thing?

Now that we have our goal we need to identify our ONE thing. The ‘ONE thing’ is the one thing that you can do that will make everything you want to achieve easier to accomplish(in other words, the most important thing you can do for your goals). So if you look at what you want to achieve and then ask yourself what you could do to achieve that, you should be able to come up with a list of tasks that you could complete. I imagine most of us would turn this into a check list and then gradually work our way through it, completing the easiest tasks first. Gary Keller on the other hand tells you to look at the list and ask the question ‘What is the ONE thing you can do today such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?’ then cross each of them off until you are left with the task you feel would be most important towards helping you achieve your goal.

So we have asked a BIG and SPECIFIC question ‘How do I double sales in the next 6 months?’ and have a very clear goal ‘Double sales in the next 6 months’. Now we can pose the question “What is the ONE thing you can do today to double sales in the next 6 months and such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?” The answer to this question will be your ONE thing and asking this question everyday will help you identify what you should be spending most of your time on especially as the importance of certain tasks will change as you progress. Bare in mind your answer should be something that is difficult not something that you know you will easily achieve.

You can do this for each of your goals and you will have ONE thing for each of them however there will be ONE goal you see as the most important and will require most of your time, this is what you will time block.

Time Blocking

Once you have identified your ONE thing it is just as important to find yourself time to actually do it. This is where time blocking comes in to play. Time blocking involves setting at least 4 hours of your time towards working on your ONE thing. So as students your ONE thing may be writing out your dissertation, completing an essay or for those trying to run your own startup, working on that. You would set at least 4 hours of your day in ONE sitting where you will work on this ONE thing. So you pick a time, let’s say from 10am-2pm and focus completely on your ONE thing and nothing else for the duration of that time block.

Protect your Time Block

Now it is all well and good having some set time and a plan for when you are doing your work and you may already be thinking this is nothing new however the key to actually being productive is in PROTECTING your time block. If you see your ONE thing as the most important part of the day then you can start planning things around it. If you know that every day you have a 4 hour time slot in which you will be completely focused on your ONE thing you can begin to say no to any offers you have which will disrupt it. A hugely important skill for this is learning how to say no to people. View your time block as having an appointment with yourself which you cannot miss so when someone asks you to do something just say ‘I have an appointment at that time’ but then offer alternatives so as not to act completely disinterested. It is also a good idea to have everything you need with you when you begin to minimise distractions or time away from your workspace.

Seth Godin – ‘You can say no with respect, you can say no promptly and you can say no with a lead to someone who might say yes. But just saying yes because you can’t bear the short term pain of saying no is not going to help you do the work.’


So we have identified our goals, we have identified our ONE thing, we have selected a time block to complete the work and we know how to protect it from disruption all we need to do now is be consistent. One 4 hour stint on your ONE thing may not seem to amount to much but one hundred 4 hour stints on your ONE thing can amount to an incredible amount of work. As well if you stick to saying no to people when it comes to your ONE thing you will build up a reputation as someone who works on their terms and cannot be easily persuaded. Over time people will start to respect that and as long as you offer them alternatives and don’t completely neglect your friends you can easily maintain your social life. It takes on average 66 days for a habit to be formed so sticking to this for that amount of time will make it automatic and make you less reliant on pure willpower which is limited.One Thing


I hope that this information here has been useful and as this is the first in a potential series it would be great to get some feedback from you guys to decide whether or not we should continue producing more book summaries. I will also stress that this isn’t my own advice, it is the advice of two hugely successful businessmen however I have applied it to my life and seen some of the benefits. I would also highly recommend reading the actual book as there is so much more amazing content that I haven’t been able to squeeze in. Here is a link to the book too.


My First Week in the Enterprise Team – The Best of ‘Make it Happen’

The Best of ‘Make it Happen’MIH-banner-200w

Hey, my name is Joe Range and I am the newest addition to the enterprise team.

Baptism of fire is the phrase that feels most appropriate to describe my first week here.

Straight in at the deep end on the Thursday and Friday getting the word out for the event by sticking up posters, dragging A boards around campus and being attacked by Lancaster’s wonderful weather in the process. With only having the two days to get my bearings the Monday assured I wouldn’t have chance which kicked off Make it Happen in line with Global Entrepreneurship week, as it is known elsewhere. It was jam-packed with valuable and insightful content, great speakers and even some free food so I’m sure that any student who did attend thought it was well worth their time.

To summarise the week we will go over the best events and some brief takeaways from each. For me the standout events would have to be the Tech Start-up Panel, Creative Problem Solving, How to negotiate like a pro, Pitch perfect and the Start-up Weekend.

On the Monday we had Tech Start-up Panel which was a question and answer session with some of Lancaster University’s own successful tech entrepreneurs. They offered a lot of useful advice on how to find a tech co-founder for those looking to make their idea a reality. They also gave tips on the importance of a tech co-founder as well as how to approach someone with your idea. I personally found it to be of huge value as did the students in attendance. Listening to people in the position you want to be in can only put you in good stead for the future.

Creative Problem solving got the ball rolling on the Tuesday and even though it was a small session there were many things to take from it. It showed that those crazy ideas that we quite often keep to ourselves to avoid embarrassment can lead to some of the best ideas and potentially even real businesses. This was only amplified by being in a place full of like-minded individuals with ideas of their own. We managed to come up with a whole new Fish and Chip shop franchise from just a couple of words and none of us had even met before.

Thursdays best was the ‘How to Negotiate like a Pro’ session which looked at negotiation and networking. We explored some of the frameworks behind what it takes to negotiate effectively and also gave a lot of handy tips as to how to get people to like you more whilst networking. On top of this some great resources were shared such as the book ‘Contagious by Jonah Berger’. I’m sure everyone would love to be liked more and also get what they want in life, so this one was definitely not just for entrepreneurs, but absolutely anyone.

The following day, to round things off was ‘Pitch perfect’, an entire session on how to speak in public more effectively, with the opportunity to pitch to a panel of staff members at the end. Students were taught how to structure their pitches, how to tell a story and use examples. They provided excellent individual feedback to each pitcher and for those of us taking part in Start-up Weekend this was great practice.

To end my incredibly hectic work week and begin what is usually quite a relaxing few days for myself was Start-up weekend Lancaster and I cannot put into words how amazing it actually was. 54 hours over 3 days spent building a business from the ground up. Everyone came in, pitched their ideas, the best ones were voted upon and then teams were assembled. It was such a great environment to be in, especially as you were surrounded with like-minded people all wanting to help you succeed and all with lots of crazy ideas themselves. Over the 3 days you had access to high level insight from the mentors who gave up a lot of their weekend to help out each team as best they could. At the end we all pitched to a panel of judges and the winners were named. I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in learning about how businesses work, even those like me who never studied a degree from the management school. I turned up with no business experience and still felt I had a lot to offer to my team, all you need is a bit of enthusiasm and an open mind and you could win some great prizes and learn so much!

A side note – I know I have probably hinted at this above already but I feel a common misconception with the events is that they are only for entrepreneurs. The majority of the events are geared towards entrepreneurship however as I explained above anybody can benefit by applying some of the weeks material to their lives. Next year will be bigger and better and we will be pulling out all the stops to make sure it is so regardless of wanting to be an entrepreneur or not take a leap of faith and get involved, you won’t regret it! 


Here is one of me pitching at Start-up Weekend!

A bit about me:
I recently graduated from Lancaster in Psychology and I am hoping to start my own business. I joined the Enterprise Team to learn as much as I can about the business world, meet a lot of similar people and to add as much value as possible to the students here. Aside from work I am from Liverpool and a big supporter of Liverpool FC with interests in health, fitness, psychology and sport in general.


Entrepreneur’s Corner

An interview with past student and entrepreneur Nick Churchill – Evans, BSc Hons Management Science Operational Research 1994, Lonsdale College

Nick Churchill-Evans - Cloudthing 670 x 200 banner







To hear live alumni tales of starting a business, book your place at the next ‘Startup Stories’ event on 19th November  here.

Nick supports the development of entrepreneurial talent at Lancaster University through his support for the Lancaster University Enterprise Centre.

 What first got you thinking about starting a business Nick?

OK, one night I and  three of my, my fellow ‘diligent hard working students had a conversation about the theory of building a business; we decided that the bedrock of a good business came down to one thing; we didn’t know anything really… but this is what we thought ‘It was about customer service’. So we talked about running we a sandwich shop; we could know all our customers names, we could give them love when they come in, welcome them, we could give them big fillings because the fillings are really small overhead in the scale of the whole business…That was the theory; Unfortunately it turns out we knew absolutely nothing about sandwiches, because we hadn’t done a sandwich course! From those early pipedreams, two of us actually decided to go ahead and start a business. It was that, or get on a graduation training scheme with Shell or someone. I am no big environmentalist, but I really didn’t fancy doing that!

How did you get started in your first business venture?

My best friend and I formed a business, luckily nothing to do with sandwiches… I had done a degree by that point in operational research, so I knew a little bit about looking at businesses and looking at business problems and using maths and stats to fix them. My friend did Operational Management (which was for less clever people!). What we did was literally go out and bamboozle our way into some contracts. I only looked about fourteen as well, I really don’t know quite know how we did it. I think it was simply blind disbelief that we could actually fail.

What kind of work were you doing to get things off the ground?

We picked up a couple of contracts, helping some customers to look at their businesses and a bit of management consultancy. The solutions to those problems were actually writing some software so we ended up being computer programmers as well.

So it was all going really well?

Sadly that only lasted about two years. We knew nothing, (even less than we knew about management consultancy to be fair); nothing about contracts and getting things agreed in a way that was water tight, where each party understood what they were doing and what they were going to get. I won’t bore you with the details but tears were involved, there was much gnashing of teeth, we almost came to fisty cuffs, (not my partner and me, him and me versus the other party.) In the end we thought let’s just draw the business to a close.

That must have been hard, how did you bounce back?

All my friends had great jobs with blue chip companies. I thought that they were living their lives on expenses and having a great time, so I thought, ‘I’ll go and grab some of that!’, and I did for fifteen great years until the company I was working for was sold to Capita. I think the guys I’m in business with and I lasted three months under the new regime. We all lookoperation waveed at one another in a meeting one day and I think I might have been the first person to say ‘There has got to be a better way of making a living than working for these guys,’ and everyone went …’Oh yeah.’ So we launched ‘Operation Wave’, as in wave goodbye to Capita!

 You’re stepping into serial entrepreneur territory now!  What did you do in the next business?

We decided we would try consultancy again. Whilst we had made a few quid, working for a big company, we had spent it all on children and wives. We all had big mortgages, big responsibilities. We needed to bootstrap and bootstrap fast. So we took some clients on and built some software for them. In 2011 we launched cloudThing and I left Capita in 2013.  What I did was get to start a business without taking any loans and that has really been done by going and finding some customers.

They say selling is the steepest learning curve in your own business, what would you say?

Let me tell you it is quite hard selling, but what we did is the ‘Entrepreneur’s Hustle’.  You pick the phone up, get on the email and, get hold of as many people as you know and you beg for them to do business with you. Basically that is what we have done…shamelessly. Then, when you have done something with them, or they say, ‘No! We can’t!’  we ask,  ‘Who else can you refer me to?’ Honestly, we have built up the best part of two million pounds worth of revenue over the last 18 months or so by doing that.

What has surprised you most during this journey?

I think the thing that has surprised me most, is the warmth of human kindness, out there. I haven’t looked at the stats but, of every hundred people that you ask for help, I bet a quarter of them will do something for you. Most of my LinkedIn posts start ‘Help!’,  because I  figured that’s basically what I am looking for; I might as well be really up front about it and a bit of transparency and honesty about where you are is really helpful.

What are your top tips for student entrepreneurs?

I’d encourage you to build your networks now! If you are not already, get on LinkedIn. It’s build your networksa gold mine of people and there are loads of people that are itching to give you advice about who to go and talk to about getting grants, how to go about crowd sourcing money; loads of people that will help you if you just ask for the help.

What did you learn about yourself that you can share with others?

I found out was that actually I  am not as clever as I thought I was when I was an arrogant twenty one year old with a degree,  shaking my fists in the air and thinking I was going to rule the world. My co-directors of cloudThing are three of the smartest guys I have ever worked with, and they haven’t quite figured out that I am not as clever as they think I am! When you are looking at your network, think about who you want to work with. Who has skills that compliment your own? You don’t have to go into business with them necessarily, but you might find that you can collaborate and help one another.

What would your advice be to students thinking of starting a business?

If you can get out of university and start your business, or, ideally start it before, and bootstrap it, without getting onto the salary train, I would massively recommend trying it. I was welcome in my parent’s house, to a certain extent, for a while anyway, so I didn’t have to worry about unpaid rent. It is much more difficult once you have mortgage and all those things, and children bless them! So… do it … do it now, you’re interested enough to be finding out about it, so you have got what it takes in my opinion. Go try it!

Do it now

With his software development company cloudThing, Nick works with and invests in entrepreneurs, start-ups and fast growing businesses to develop the technology upon which they deliver their services and upon which their businesses are founded. He has a passion for agile business through beautiful software and infrastructure architecture that can flex to unforeseen market opportunity, scale rapidly, yet stretch capital as far as it can go.  The philosophy that Nick and his colleagues work to is that, “Everything we do should ‘build future’ for our clients”.

You can view Nick’s LinkedIn profile here.

Social Belly: a passion into a start up

Social Belly: 2014 Startup Open competition finalist


Dimple Lalwani had a passion for cooking and hospitality. She took her love of hosting dinner parties and made a viable business from it. Could your hobby see you start your own business?

Social Belly was a finalist in Global Entrepreneurship Week 2014’s Start Up Open competition and is now on its way to becoming the UK’s premiere platform for people looking for unique dining experiences. (Click here for more.) The theme for this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Week is ‘make it happen’; could you turn your hobby into a successful business and make things happen for you? Prepare to share your ideas in November, details coming soon….