Deflated, directionless and lost

Christian Simpson



A guest blog from a totally practical business coach, mentor and teacher  

She said she’d lost her “mojo”.

Despite reaching a major milestone in her entrepreneurial career, here she was, lacking the very drive, hunger and focus that had got her there.

It was last Friday.

I sat in a room with forty or so business owners observing a “hot seat” conversation between this lady, Dianne, and her mentor.

Dianne’s business has grown significantly in the past couple of years, to the point where she proudly announced it had a million in the bank for the first time.

A significant achievement. One you’d think would fan the flames of her passion, drive and commitment even more.

Not so. The exact opposite was the case.

She was deflated, directionless, and lost.

It didn’t take long for the cause of the effect to be revealed. Nothing is hidden from those who have the “ears to hear”. We can’t help but communicate our issues, even though we can’t see them ourselves (it’s hard to see the picure when you’re in the frame).

Our language – not just what we say but how we say it – reveals everything.

In the course of the conversation, she revealed a bombshell.


She’d built her business by being consistently on top of the numbers. Every day she looked at the sales ledger and made decisions accordingly. She bemoaned the recently deployment of “Salesforce” (the CRM software) in her business because it “screwed up” her reporting process.

Could that be why her “mojo” was lost?


Sure, the learning curve with any new system is disruptive, frustrating and traumatic, but there was much to more to this than a short term distraction.

To be resolved successfully, our problems must be addressed at the level beneath the one at which they occur.

So what was the “bombshell”?

Dianne had already mentioned how “surprised” she’d been at how helpful it was to “write her challenge down” when applying for the “hot seat” time with her mentor. And a little further on, the moment came.

Her mentor asked if she had a clear picture of what success looks like for her and her business.

She paused.

“No not really. But I don’t think that’s important.”


There’s the problem, right there.

This lady lacked vision. She couldn’t “see” the success she aspires to.

Her mind had no image to work with. And the mind can’t create what it can’t see.

Worst of all, she held the belief that such things are unimportant.

When the appropriate break in proceedings came, I spoke into what I’d observed:

“Dianne, I’d like to challenge your thinking on a couple of things you’ve said. You mentioned earlier how surprisingly helpful you found it to write out your thoughts regarding your problem. You also said you didn’t think having a clear picture of what success looked like for you was important. I respectfully suggest that’s the issue right there. There’s a powerful proverb that states “where there is no vision, the people perish”, you think in pictures – we all do – and if you can’t see what success looks like for you, you can’t create it”.

I then suggested she write out, by hand, the future she intends to experience.

My suggestion didn’t resonate. I could tell straight away from Dianne’s demenour and facial expression that she didn’t buy into it all, or if she did, it wasn’t to the level where she’d act on my suggestion.

I understood. I wasn’t coaching her after all, I was offering a suggestion. And Dianne is very analytically led. She’s been programmed to see the world in a certain way, where hard, factual evidence reigns supreme and is all there is be trusted.

The process of visioning the future, or “imagineering” as Walt Disney referred to it, is looked upon as either unnecessary or an absurd waste of time by most business owners.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

You see, being on top of the numbers is vitally important in business. Of course it is. I’d be an idiot to suggest otherwise.

But the numbers can only get you so far.

Where there is no vision the people perish.

The statement doesn’t mean people physically perish. It means they fail to be all they could be – because they fail to use the mind effectively.

It can’t call forth what it can’t see. Show me the person who lacks an image of what success looks like in their mind’s eye and I’ll show you a a person who lacks direction – regardless of what level they’re at.

Even the busiest, hard working, relatively successful entrepreneur can soon find herself lacking direction, drive and purpose. Despite a million sitting in the bank, Dianne finds herself lacking the “mojo” that put the million there in the first place.

Where there is no vision the people perish.

Ignore those pearls of wisdom at your peril, because it’ll eventually bite you on the backside.

You are a creative being. You’re never NOT creating. Unfortunately, for most, they’re creating much of the same, over and over again, because they’re NOT conscious in the act of creation.

It pays not to follow the crowd. If you haven’t grasped that truth yet, you’ve made a diabolical career choice.

If you can’t see the “dream”, I guarantee it’ll stay a dream.

Christian Simpson is an  internationally acclaimed expert in professional coaching, transformational leader of entrepreneurs.

To share your ideas and dreams or get involved with shaping other peoples’ come and see us at the drop in in The Base Wednesdays 2-4pm.


Don’t miss ‘Start Up Stories’ on 11th June



'I'd have to rate an English Literature degree because the skills I used...taking information and assimilating it and presenting it for PR, marketing, business partners.'

‘I’d have to rate an English Literature degree because of the skills I used…taking information and assimilating it and presenting it for PR, marketing, business partners.’

Entertainment, wisdom and valuable career insights for all, from enterprising Lancaster University Alumni

11th June 2015, 6-9pm, Brandrigg Room (Barker House Farm)

Book now on Target Connect to secure your place.

If you’re an undergraduate or a postgraduate student ‘scratching your head’ for career inspiration, or even if you  think know where you’re heading, you can’t fail to be enlightened by what our enterprising alumni share with us at ‘Start Up Stories’.

Back by popular demand, this is a story telling event where Lancaster enterprising alumni form all  disciplines and sectors return to campus to tell the stories of their personal development journeys; transitions from blue chip careers to starting their their own businesses, making a life and a living from their research or simply fulfilling their purpose by doing something to make positive change for people.

You ‘ll learn about the highs, the lows, the failures and the learning that are the pathway to success on this winding journey we call a career, and you’ll hear it first hand from people who are doing what they love and loving what they do in their own ventures.

As a potential employee, manager or entrepreneur, you really can’t fail to learn something valuable and you might meet a future employer, a mentor or simply expand your networks.

Stories will be told to the magic of live illustration and there will be nibbles and refreshments.

Book now on Target Connect to secure your place.

This event is possible because of generous donations to the Alumni Friends Fund.

Stepping back to go Forward – Alumni Voices

Live event illustration by

Live event illustration by

The message from alumni was loud and clear; They only learned what was missing from their programmes of study when they had graduated and stepped out into the big wide world.

Last week I joined an Enterprise Educators UK (EEUK) event at the University of Wales Trinity St David in Swansea. EEUK host regular events for HEI enterprise educators to pool resources, share best practice, inform government and lobby from the bottom up. A member institution, any Lancaster University staff can go along for free.

The event was largely alumni led. ‘Voices of alumni, their experiences, networks and expertise’. It covered approaches to enhancing curricular and extra curricular activities to develop enterprising and employable graduates. At the University of Wales Trinity St David (USWTSD) alumni engagement has directly assisted educators and resulted for example, in one of the highest graduate enterprise and entrepreneurship spin outs in the UK.

At Thursday’s event, what recent alumni said would have been the most valuable things to have had, as a part of their university experience were:

  • Industry / work related experience
  • Networking and collaboration with clients, suppliers and students on different courses
  • Enterprise and entrepreneurship education
  • The opportunity to hear from alumni who had been in their shoes

Below are  shared just a few of the questions and discussion areas on the day:

  • What can alumni bring to teaching? Working with recent graduates to help to design and develop enterprising programmes.
  • Do we ask them what is needed now based on what they need in the workplace and the challenges they are facing?
  • Professor Andy Penaluna spoke about the Continuous Conceptual Review Model (page30) (allowing past students to inform)
  • Could students help us to teach?
  • Could students help us to design the curriculum?
  • Lucy Griffiths from (USWTSD) spoke about the ‘Students as Partners Agenda’
  • If students saw past students helping and contributing to their learning would they be inspired to so the same?
  • Does this develop a better alumni network and engagement at all for the future?
  • What about alumni as active role models? See the Wales Dynamo Role Model Programme
  • Do we celebrate enterprise and entrepreneurship achievement enough?
  • Do we celebrate our alumni?
  • What can our current students learn through our alumni contributions to the academic programme – My story so far…
  • Encouraging more universities to adopt the QAA Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Guidance
  • The tension between the value of ‘glorious failure’ in learning and  grades and league tables.
  • Some interesting in-curricular concepts to give learners a taste of the real world:
  • Students learning the value of time and materials by having to complete time sheets and submit invoices weekly for the duration of a course.
  • Learning the need to be flexible, adaptable and agile was approached by injecting reality to project management; changing deadlines, adding ad hoc information along the way. At one university students have to make a specific number of cold calls a week and handle a specific number of business e-mails.

I went along to share how in collaboration with our Alumni Development Team, the Enterprise Team have started to work with our enterprising alumni through the Start Up Stories Series of events. (SUS)

It’s an event that is growing its following. For students of all faculties, it’s real life experiences from recent and past alumni who have started businesses in all sectors. For our alumni there is clear value in giving back and meeting the bright young talent they might be collaborating with in the future.

For our next SUS event on 11th June one of our alumni is threatening to make the long journey from Brazil to tell his entrepreneurial tale! There is much good will and potential value for everyone in these relationships.

Growing the capacity of our current students to be early active and engaged alumni is one important element of  growing a reciprocal eco system of enterprise and support at Lancaster University. It would be really interesting to hear how staff at Lancaster work with our past students in the course of their work.

You can sign up for EEUK newsletters to hear about future events here.

You can download the slides and information from the event here.

You can sign up for the next ‘Start Up Stories’ event in June here.

Designing a world where people come first

People hands

An RSA Event Thursday 28th May 2015 at 18:00

 LISTEN LIVE from 6pm on 28th May 2015

 WATCH LIVE using the embedded player, above, or on the RSA YouTube channel

Government, business, the lives we lead, the food we eat, the way our children are brought up, the way we relate to the natural world around us – it’s all become too big and distant and industrialised. Inhuman. It’s time to do something about it. It’s time to put people first. It’s time to make the world more human.

Steve Hilton, visiting professor at Stanford University and former senior adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron, believes that the frustrations people have with government, politics, their economic circumstances and their daily lives are caused by deep structural problems in the systems that dominate our modern world – systems that are broken because they’ve grown too far from the human scale.

At the RSA, he shows how change is possible, offering the latest research, compelling stories and case studies from all over the world across industry, politics, education, design and social action to show us what can happen when we make our world more human. A more local, more accountable and more human way of living, he argues, will make us more productive, more fulfilled and ultimately happier.

More information

For more information contact RSA Public Events at:

+44 (0)20 7451 6868

If you’re interested in contributing to designing a world where people come first check out a new Lancaster University student group @USocialVenture.


Escape from planet job…


The new physics of career management.

Business Model You® co-creator Bruce Hazen talks with Business Model You author about the new physics of career management — and the Three Questions™ career management methodology.



You can access further information on ‘Business Model You’ including a downloadable canvas and other resources  here.




Mindset: Design Thinking

design thinking

Image from


Making the future, one prototype at a time

From the steam engine to the computer mouse, design has always had a significant role in innovation. From its origins in industrial and product design, design methods are being increasingly applied to redesigning services and creating new responses to social challenges. Design can help us to better understand people’s lives: what is important to people, what motivates them, and what their experience of interacting with services might be. It can help us to generate and visualise new ideas. And design can help us to test our ideas in practice so that we can see what works and make adjustments through a rapid process of trial and error. Read on for our selection of resources on the role of design in innovation.

Article from []

See more from Nesta and access their toolkits here.


The Science of Persuasion

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 23.31.19

This animated video describes the six universal ‘Principles of Persuasion’.

You can apply these ideas in your day to day work working with others, and in your marketing and communications with your customers.

The video outlines the six key shortcuts which have been scientifically proven to make you most effective and able to influence, and is based on the research in Dr. Cialdini’s groundbreaking book, ‘Influence’. This video is narrated by Dr. Robert Cialdini and Steve Martin, CMCT.

You can watch the animation here.

Source: 24.3.2015 (Dr Robert B Cialdini)





Are you charging enough?

7 Easy steps to calculate how much your product will cost.

Last week I was working with a Lancaster University student Oliver Bradley-Baker who is a first year Art student and a talented film maker. You can see his show reel here.

Ollie and I were discussing the challenges of potentially starting up, costing your work and knowing how much to charge, to ensure that you are covering your overheads, your job or material costs and earning the right price for your time and your talents.

In their series ‘Create a business you are proud of’ the Design Trust have written a really helpful series of articles on subjects ranging from, calculating how much your product or service will cost, to different ways to price, how to handle clients who say you charge too much and the one I like is ‘how to avoid being a starving creative.’

The articles are really helpful, but to work on your figures and the different iterations of your costing options you need a tool to play with. What I came up with is attached. It has been sanity checked by a few business and numbers people so it should be good to go.

You can access it here.

Any feedback always welcome  – warts and all!

Thank you to Patricia van den Akker at the Design Trust for the great on-line article that helped me to put this together. The Design Trust website is well worth signing up to for advice, competitions and other forthcoming opportunities.

Start Up Stories – Speaker line up


Are you still exploring career options, sectors or have you ever wondered what it takes to be or work with an entrepreneur?

Curious? Then join us on the evening of Thursday 5th March at this story telling event with recent and past Lancaster University Alumni narrators, who will share the highs, lows and lessons learned on their entrepreneurial journeys.

Feedback from the last event:

Really inspiring and creative.’  

‘So interesting – really glad I came.’   

‘Brilliant. Well – spent time.’

Storytellers for this event: 


Gian Fulgoni- Founder of ‘comScore’

Gian Fulgoni overcame what seemed insurmountable barriers to taking two companies with a combined market value of $3.5 billion public in the USA. The former Lancaster marketing student enjoyed career success in market research companies prior to the creation of his own business, comScore, a global leader in digital media analytics.

Nikki Hesford- Director of ‘Made in Preston’

Shell live Wire Grand Ideas award winner, and BBC Dragons Den contender and ex-underwear model Nikki Hesford set up her own business in 2008, manufacturing lingerie and clothing for DD plus sized women. Her Lancashire based fashion brand ‘Made In Preston’ making “High Street Fashion that goes Beyond DD”.

Richard Naylor- Founder of ‘Enrich’

Richard Naylor Designs and facilitates learning, change and performance in organisations. He runs a consultancy company in Denmark. 

Julia Palmer –  ‘JP Academic Services’

Julia graduated from Lancaster University in 2009 with an MPhil in Applied Social Science and started her business one year later which has given her the total freedom and flexibility to combine family life and her entrepreneurial aspirations.

Raymond Smith- Founding Partner of ‘Modos Learning

US based Lancaster Alumnus, Raymond Smith has a fascination with how technology can be used for learning. After careers in the corporate world and Higher Education, Raymond is now the founding partner of US based Modos Learning, an organisation which purposefully creates immersive learning environments for adults.

A chance to expand your networks, meet people who have been there, done it and are willing to share their wisdom. Who knows… you might meet a mentor, an investor or a potential employer. Whatever, you will gain new perspectives on what it takes to be and stay in business.

Thursday 5th March 2015 7.00 – 9.00 pm, George Fox LT5

Pizza & drinks provided.

Booking on Target Connect 

Supported by donations from alumni and friends of the University.