Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Conspiracy Theorists

Monday, October 8th, 2018

For some people, there is a conspiracy theory behind everything today (Kavanaugh, Trump, the crooked jockey). The Oxford English Dictionary defines a conspiracy theory, as “A belief that some covert but influential organization is responsible for an unexplained event.” Have you ever heard any hard evidence or observed behaviour supporting 99% of these theories? If, like me, you see it as a “cop out” by the uneducated not wishing to invest time educating themselves, we do an injustice if we don’t simply walk away.


Uncommon Communities

Wednesday, September 5th, 2018

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “Community”, when used as a mass noun, “the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common”. Here is an unpalatable truth for a great many businesses, events and professional associations, who talk about building or nurturing a “community”, they really don’t have one. Why? They never have or no longer possess the right conditions for sharing (reciprocal value) and/or the community members have little in common with each other’s lives. Some falter after a brief life, others struggle on into a mid-life crisis or they reach a natural death. It is incredibly hard to sustain a community and build a powerful brand. Because it is easy start in a low-cost technological age, we shouldn’t kid ourselves it is the smart thing for us to do.

Copyright James Berkeley 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Irrelevant Media

Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

When the New Yorker magazine consciously rescinds an invitation to Steve Bannon to one of its’ high profile events, ostensibly for commercial and editorial reasons, why should the publication be taken seriously in future public discourse?

These invitations to polarising figures aren’t proffered on a whim, they are extended because someone at the top of the media organisation thinks Bannon will be an object of serious interest to their audience. That the other liberal-minded speakers don’t agree and won’t be seen on the same stage, says more about them than Bannon.

Perhaps the publication is seeking to return to its’ roots, a “fifteen-cent comic paper”, not the self-styled, “most influential magazine in the world….that stands apart for its commitment to truth and accuracy, for the quality of its prose, and for its insistence on exciting and moving every reader”?

Grief & Suffering

Tuesday, August 21st, 2018
Your Choices

There are foreseen and unforeseen events in our professional lives (loss of a key client or a job) and personal lives (divorce and death), which causes us great pain, and where we have may little or no control. However, we do have control and choices over the length and depth of our “suffering“. I am talking about how we let events affect our behaviour, attitudes and ultimately, beliefs.

  1. We can caste blame at others and adopt a victimhood position.
  2. We can stick our head in the sand and procrastinate about taking the necessary actions required to move us into a comfort zone.
  3. We can dramatically improve our self-talk, identify the cause and take action now, to improve our condition, and adapt or mitigate the consequences of our “loss”.

Those are very real choices in almost every situation. If you are reading this and thinking, that is great but I am still stuck 30 days on from my “loss”, get qualified help. There is a reason you are stuck, you lack clear thinking about the path ahead (fog), you have lost sight of past reference points (second-guessing yourself) or you are fearful (perceived, actual, catastrophic risks). You have almost certainly succeeded in extracting yourself in the past from similar situations with impressive results. You need reminding of your past success, and to first, give yourself permission to move forward. You cannot do that if you insist on keeping your foot on the brake.   

Technology: Friend or Foe

Tuesday, August 21st, 2018

When you blindly see technology as an “end” in of itself, not a “means” to a more impressive client experience, greater productivity, reduced risk and so on, you self-limit your own power and control. Think about that for a minute. 

Business Growth Pain

Tuesday, August 7th, 2018

Losing Control

Why do more founders of small businesses spend more time thinking about relinquishing control as they scale their business than dealing with it? Let me be clear, I am not talking about selling the business, I am talking about relinquishing aspects of the business that bore them or they are least effective in (agreeing new personal accountabilities and behaviours).

I’ll tell you why, they are constantly second-guessing themselves, and they are fearful of being judged. Their default is to procrastinate, knowing that they cannot be held accountable if a definitive decision is not made. The founder’s problem is the stress and pain builds each day with the increasing demands co-investors, clients, peers, employees and business partners put on them.

That needn’t be the case if they are looking at the horizon, not at their toes. If they are willing to make decisions, accept prudent risk and not revert to their former self. If you need help, find an experienced entrepreneur as you proceed, who has accomplished what you want to accomplish and can help you translate the changes to your personal circumstances, ahead of time. 

Copyright James Berkeley 2018. All Rights Reserved. 

Corporate Innovation Comedy

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

There are certain fashion or fad trends which when worn by 60 year old men, skinny jeans come to mind, are just plain wrong unless you are Mick Jagger. In all the buzz about innovation, reinvention and disruption it is comedic watching the attempts of some corporate organisations in finance, banking and insurance to embrace it effectively.

The CEO stands up and says

1. “Innovation is the new normal”: err, innovation is not a rheostat with an on/off switch in outstanding innovative companies such as 3M, Merck, Apple etc.

2. “When I was at Google….”: err, you met with a middle manager or silo function (risk management) that is not even situated in the Corporate HQ. Ssh, the guy is an ex employee of ours suffering a mid life crisis but it sounds cool?

3. “We are on the side of the disruptive businesses…”: really, where is the hard evidence? Ah you have put in an order for the Tesla when the lease on the Merc expires.

4. “Let me tell you about our work with [Uber, Airbnb]…..”: your “credentials” are killing me, how are a series of actions unique to one firm now a hot trend?

5. “We took our Leadership Team to Silicon Valley….”: so you flew into San Jose on the Gulfstream, spoke to a few random clients and friends and are now immersed with ground-breaking ideas, really? Ever tried the pilgrimage to Lourdes? Thought not.

6. “I was speaking at a Tech investors event in Silicon Valley…”: you are now on first name terms with Marc Andreesen and Fred Wilson. Keep that one for the next earnings call.

7. “We are passionate about the future. We are announcing a new corporate venturing team with a $100 million of capital”: wow, so third rate entrepreneurs line up outside our headquarters. After all why would a stack of cash and a conservative reputation not appeal to serious tech entrepreneurs? Oh, nevermind.

8. “I am really excited by the power of blockchain as a powerful asset”: half the audience look blankly. The venerable City reinsurance broker or Wall Street banker racks his brain “watch chain?”, as the CEO fumbles like an adolescent boy trying to unhook the girl’s bra, in explaining blockchain’s virtues and his excitement.

9. “I have asked our Divisional Heads to set up an offsite meeting on Innovation and Disruption….”: yay, a chance to invite Wired’s David Rowan to talk to us about 10 transformative technologies. Oh hell, which futurologist should we invite? No giggling or fumbling for the iPhone and that important email when he or she stands up.

10. “It is time for the results of our Annual Report on Megatrends, we spoke to our global community of risk managers…..”: ah, that is the fella situated down the end of the first floor corridor with an actuarial background and a handful of junior direct reports. I don’t remember seeing his face in the Corporate Strategy meeting, perhaps he was at his daughter’s soccer game.

I kid you not, these are all genuine one-liners. Sorry I am bent double admiring the CEO’s shiny white teeth and folksy humour. Nice touch.

© James Berkeley 2015. All Rights Reserved.


All Black Execution

Monday, October 26th, 2015

People talk about champions or champion teams.

World-class execution under pressure, whether in sport or businRWC Semi Finaless is largely about positive behaviours and experience rather than skills.

The ability to stay in the moment, to respond swiftly to opportunity and to think clearly in adversity.

The New Zealand rugby team, the world champions, on Saturday faced with being bundled out of rugby’s showpiece event at the semi-final stage provided a “master class”.

Bouncing back from an underwhelming first half of rugby on Saturday (too many penalties) and playing with 14 men, for 10 minutes they shackled their opposition in their own half.

When opportunity presented itself they resorted to the pragmatic taking a rare drop goal and changing the momentum of the entire game and triumphing over arch enemies,  South Africa. They did this largely by changing their mindset and stopping giving away penalties. The inspiration coming from the experience of their captain Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and Conrad Smith.

Copyright James Berkeley 2015. All Rights Reserved.

In Memoriam: Sir Peter O’Sullevan

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

“It is not what you say but how you express it.”

Those were the immortal words and wisdom Sir Peter O’Sullevan, the iconic British racing Jounalist and commentator shared with me as a 15 year old standing on the roof of a windswept Cheltenham Racecourse grandstand in December 1982.

His passing today reminds me of his generosity and civility in sharing his insights about the career of legendary jockey, Lester Piggott over a period of six months for a school History “O-Level” project. An iconic figure in British broadcasting giving his “free” time to a passionate student of the sport.

We departed that freezing cold day with his closing line, “it gives me such pleasure to help a young chap.”

Your voice may have dimmed today Sir Peter but your wisdom is forever with us.

Copyright James Berkeley 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Welcome to James Berkeley’s Blog

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

So many blogs I see are full of conceptual, trite and dull views. They ask the wrong questions and merely serve as platforms for displaying the size of the writer’s ego. My promise to you is that you will never accuse us of the same.

I founded my consulting business with the belief that it is not my job to teach people what to think. The greatest gift I can give my clients and others is to ask the right questions, to get them to think. To think, in ways that they have never thought before.

Market Leading Growth blog features sound practical advice and perspective for those with profit and loss responsibility in expansive organisations, who want to profitably grow in high growth markets.

I will present fresh ideas, formal and informal viewpoints, techniques, articles, educational resources, links, video and podcasts etc to help accelerate the movement from the “status quo” to your desired level of improvement.

I learn exponentially more from listening to those people, who choose to engage formally or informally with me, enabling me to adapt and adjust to their pulse, and their suggestions for improvement. I welcome debate and communication amongst readers of the blog.

In over twenty years, I have acquired a rich set of past experiences, living in, and growing businesses of all variety in different cultures and geography. A true “globalist”. I have sat in the executive suite and also on the other side of the table, advising those with profit and loss responsibility for dramatic growth. I have felt, heard, seen and sensed the challenge of balancing short- and longer-term profitable growth needs with the expectations of key constituents: Boards, shareholders, employees and customers.

I have worked for and with some of the stand out brands in their respective sectors, AON, Travelers, Hilton Worldwide, Caesars Entertainment, Ericsson and over 30 other market leaders around the world. On that journey I have had the pleasure of collaborating with some of the finest minds.

I have learned that those, who inhabit and sustain market leadership positions have some very distinct traits: they are passionate and hold clear positions, yet they allow others to challenge their beliefs, they are not afraid to abandon past beliefs that have served them well, and they are not afraid to provoke and take contrarian positions. Most importantly, they want to soar, not merely coast in their career.

My observation is that improvement is largely incremental, a sequence of small steps, which when combined create a dramatic leap. I hope you will find one or more small steps, each time you read this blog.

You have my permission to use any of the information on the blog just so long as you correctly attribute the source.

To quote Damon Runyon, “You can become a winner only if you are willing to walk over the edge.”

– James Berkeley

Ground Rules

  1. This blog is administered and run by Salvatore Lovano of CB Software Systems, Inc.
  2. Our intent is to publish new, brief articles or insight by James every week. Some will be on market-leading growth. The others will be on a contemporary issue, which are sparking James’s imagination or driving him crazy.
  3. Posts are appreciated. You can expect James to reply to valuable postings, intelligent questions or points that illustrate an absence of common sense and a danger of spreading like wildfire. Any postings that detract from the quality of the discussion, our ethics or the standards of behaviour we actively like to promote, will not be aired.

If you would like to talk directly with James….

Please go to the website or contact him at +44 203 440 5072